Thanks to the International Olympic Committee easing restrictions in so-called Rule 40 – at least in part to make it easier for athletes to publicize existing relationships with brands that might not sponsor the event, enterprising non-sponsor brands had an opportunity to participate in conversations tied to the 2016 event – albeit with caveats.
But unlike, say, Nike stealing Adidas’ thunder at the 2014 World Cup, there wasn’t a particularly memorable brand ambush in Rio.
Except, of course, maybe for "that swimmer."
And if Ryan Lochte’s personal brand did indeed inadvertently hijack the conversation, it was clearly for all the wrong reasons. At the same time, Lochte is now firmly entrenched on a redemption tour, so perhaps he’ll eventually make for an interesting case study in reputation management. Dancing With the Stars seems a bit predictable though. What’s next, Ryan? Rehab for sex addiction?
And this isn’t even a good apples-to-apples comparison. Which just goes to show that despite the opportunity, non-sponsors did not capitalize.
And, according to Mike Sundet, senior vice president and director of sports and entertainment at brand experience agency Momentum Worldwide, the intent behind Rule 40 is “great” in trying to protect sponsors and “increase the value of the Olympics as a property to be associated with,” but it is “not the silver bullet that will come in and save sponsors from other people that tread on their territory.”