Athletes call for the freedom to tweet with ‘We demand change’ campaign
After just one weekend, the Olympics is dominating conversations on social media. People have been tweeting commentary on the opening ceremony and various sports, posting pictures from their visits to Olympic events, and watching streams of events.
However, some athletes have been using social media to express frustration at some of the rules imposed on them.
Members of Team USA have complained about rule 40, which seeks to prevent “ambush marketing”. Breaking this rule can lead to athletes being disqualified, losing their accreditation, or being fined.
US athletes are so angry, because they receive no Government funding and so rely on sponsors for their livelihood. Many want to leverage their growing online profile, to thank their sponsors and to boost their value.
The annoyed athletes have been using the hashtag #wedemandchange to try and get alterations to the rule, and ended up trending both in the UK and the US. The rule seems like another in a long line of examples of advertising rules failing to adapt to the digital age. Rule 40 was brought in when the games were predominantly competed in by amateurs.
According the Evening Standard Leo Manzano, 1500m runner, joined the protest after being told to remove a photograph of his shoes from his Facebook site.
He wrote: “I am very disappointed in Rule 40 as I just had to take down my picture of my shoes and comments about their performance.”
400-metre runner Sanya Richards-Ross added: “Track athletes should be allowed to don multiple logos on our uniform. I’d love to show my other great sponsors love. I am one of the very fortunate athletes that work with wonderful sponsors during the Olympic year. But [this is] an injustice.”
They we not the only ones posting online for change either. American athletes from a variety of disciplines were retweeting calls for changes to the rules.
The IOC has said said restrictions on athletes are only for a month and that it is up to national Olympic committees to enforce. Mark Adams of the IOC said he didn’t “think it willcome to that“.
The Wall has already looked at the strict rules regarding Olympic advertising here and it’s clear that the official sponsors are trying to use their expensive status to dominate all the brand based conversations.
As this protest by the US athletes show, this is easier said than done in the digital age, and their stringent stance could end up backfiring if people resent their dominance.
Evan Morgenstein, president and CEO of Premier Management Group in Cary, North Carolina has many issues with Rule 40 and the USOC rules, the first being that the committees’ rules are not even in sync with one another.
“The IOC requirements, through Rule 40, govern only the two weeks of the Games to forbid ambush marketing,” Morgenstein told Sports Agent Blog. ”The USOC has added the restriction to include two weeks before and the week after the Games.”
“Less than 2 percent of the U.S. Olympic team has direct sponsorship deals with USOC sponsors. So that means 98 percent of the team is by-in-large financed by other means. The IOC and USOC rake in billions of dollars and the athletes demand a larger piece of that pie and a full accounting of revenue. Everyone appreciates the discourse regarding performance enhancing drugs, but the scourge of greed is far more insidious,” he told the the Sports Agent’s Blog.