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Tokyo Olympics 2020 and Olympics Kenya: Maximizing Marketing Opportunities at a Local Level.

The Olympic games are here again. That time of the sporting calendar we all get excited about our country being represented in THE global sporting event. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, this should be a good year for sports in Kenya now that we have a better understanding of the pandemic and we have devised ways to navigate the challenges that have come with it. 

A common misconception that we have observed overtime, has been the assumption that during the Olympic games, the Olympic rings, Olympic torch, the Olympic motto and all other properties created and arising from the international event are fair game. That they are free to use and associate with especially on a commercial level. This is not the case. Anyone or any brand attempting to use Olympic names and symbols MUST seek permission from its National Olympics Committee (NOC). They are the International Olympic Committee (IOC) representatives at the national / local level. 

The potential and commercial rights and powers that NOCs have in regards to Olympic games properties are quite robust. The IOC under the Olympic Charter outlines these properties owned by the committee. The basic legal principle that must be honoured; permissions of the owners of these properties and marks must be sought. They have an identity and value that is a preserve of the owners and their assignees. 

Through the NOCs, the IOC assigns some of its rights and obligations to achieve its objectives at national levels. This means that NOCs are the authorities to be sought when seeking to use Olympic properties at a local level. The opportunities to create synergy between corporations and the Olympics are many. There are various levels of sponsorship that can be agreed upon and tailor made between the parties; of course subject to the guidelines issued by the IOC. 

For a brand to offer congratulatory messages on social media campaigns or TV advertising, they must be a recognized partner and have a licensing agreement/ sponsorship agreement in place for such posts to have validity. Otherwise, such stunts are deemed to be acts of Ambush marketing, which are a costly affair to the ambushing brand. 

Ambush marketing; because of its unlicensed nature can lead to trademark infringement, copyright infringement  and passing off claims. As such, they are not as lucrative as they may be perceived to be due to the legal liability that they will certainly attract. 

Olympic Kenya (Olympics KE) formerly referred to as the National Olympics Committee – Kenya (NOC-K) held a webinar on 8th April 2021, to share the various opportunities in place and to open doors for current and future engagements on matters of sponsorship and marketing with the Olympics committee. It is important to also be aware that, during the period of the Olympic games, our athletes assign their image rights to Olympics Kenya. As such, any corporate that would like to associate themselves with an athlete, must seek permission from the organization. 

All sponsorship both in kind (must equate to a monetary value on the Olympics KE budget) and monetary are invested into the various sporting federations to grow sports in Kenya as well as assist Olympics KE in running other programs that complement their mandate. Therefore, no money goes to waste! 

So, if you are a social media manager or a marketing manager in a corporate or business, before you post #TeamKenya #Olympics2020 #Tokyo2020 and other affiliated names and marks, before you post images, pictures, musical and artistic works belonging to the IOC/ Olympics KE, make sure you have cleared the rights. Otherwise, your institution may find itself in a potentially litigious situation; which will not be a cheap affair in many aspects. 

If you want to reach out to Olympics Kenya about potential partnership ventures; send an email to [email protected] and [email protected]. Let’s make sports a great and rewarding venture for our athletes and our nation! 

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