Do You Have Protection? The Summer Olympics Gets a Safe Non-sponsor

Reckitt Benckiser Group’s Durex brand condoms will be distributed to more than 10,000 athletes at this year’s London Summer Olympic games. How will non-sponsors do their best for brand exposure compared to sponsors and strict marketing guidelines? Written by Juliet Rocco

Let the games begin: In 137 days, the torch will be lit yet again and the 2012 London Olympic Games will begin. The hype for the Olympics is already in full swing as sponsors prepare for one of the most important branding opportunities since the Super Bowl or even the previous Olympics. This year, sponsors will be investing a hefty $1.6 billion to be an “official sponsor.” This covers all sponsorship fees.

Check out the list of official Olympic Partners here:

Some brands, however, have not chosen to invest “officially” in all the hype, but are still taking advantage of guerilla marketing tactics. This is exactly what Reckitt Benckiser is doing. They will be handing out their brand of Durex condoms to all athletes at the games this year, appropriately Olympic color-themed.

Follow the rules: The London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) is responsible for cracking down on non-sponsors and protecting the actual sponsors’ investment rights. Even since the Winter Olympics 2 years ago, rules this year are more strict than ever, trying to keep up with ever-changing social media and the unstoppable growth of viral marketing.

If a company gets caught violating any of these rules, they will be subject to fines, and they’ve already been warned. Either way, with Durex putting their brand to good use, both negative and positive coverage will still be coverage (can you really argue with safe sex?). Marketers are getting more creative about ways to sneak their brands into the games somehow and garner as much exposure as possible without getting caught in LOCOG’s trap.

Quickfact: the fine for streaking at any of the Olympic events is about $30,000.

Takeaway: Marketers will find a way to get their non-sponsored brand attention, but it is going to take a lot of creativity and remaining careful not to violate any rules. To market a product well without being an official sponsor is going to take stealth. This year’s Olympics is going to be very different than in previous years thanks to big advancements in sharing and social media.

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