How to Easily (and Legally!) Create Olympic-Themed Ads

Every couple years, the problems of the world and tension between global leaders and world powers seem to cease for a few short weeks while the world comes together for the Olympic Games. We sit around our televisions day and night and watch as young athletes compete on the world stage. We see the advertisements from the world’s biggest brands- the ones with the deepest pockets (you know who they are), capitalizing on the hype of the Games.

Well, you don’t have to be one of these big brands to do the same. Sure, any marketer knows there are trademark laws around the Olympic Games, and companies pay big, big bucks to be Official Sponsors, Official Suppliers, and Official anything related to the event. But we marketers, in our creative genius, need to remember that no one has trademarked “champion,” “determination,” gold medal,” or other words and phrases many people associate with the Games, so these are fair game!

As a marketer who has worked with the United States Olympic Committee for one of these big brand Official Sponsors, I can tell you there are many protected assets only available to Official Sponsors/Suppliers, and the USOC is very serious about their intellectual property. You can review the brand usage guidelines on, but here is a short list of what you CAN’T do as an advertiser without permission:

•Use the official logos of the Olympic Games including the Team USA logo, PyeongChang logo, or other site logos (Rio, Tokyo, etc.)

•Use trademarked phrases owned by the USOC including Olympic, Olympian, Go for the Gold, Let the Games Begin, Paralympic, Team USA, Road to PyeongChang/Tokyo/etc.

•Use images or names of USOC-endorsed athletes

•Show the Olympic rings

• And a lot more, which you can find here.

BUT… does your insurance company offer "gold medal service?" Have your technicians been"training hard for their big moment" when they go out to fix your customers’ appliances? Do your employees have the "determination of champions" to provide the best product in town? Then your time is NOW to let the world know! After all, the world is all for celebrating champions right now.

So have fun with it! Catch the spirit of the Games! You can show an image of a snowboarderin your ad, just not Shaun White. But really, would the average person know the athlete in your ad behind the goggles... and helmet... 30 feet in the air... isn’t an official Olympic athlete? Maybe. Is it worth it to use a “generic” image and save a few million dollars on a sponsorship? I think so.

So while the events of this year’s Winter Games will be over in the blink of an eye, here’s hoping your ads will leave an impression as lasting as the athletes’ memories in PyeongChang.

Big snowboard jump

Photo credits: Viatcheslav Dusaleev.

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Thanks for sharing, this can also be used for manny other events.

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