After 14 days packed with peak performance, great atmosphere and a flurry of medals, the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang came to a close on Sunday. With the Soccer World Cup fast approaching, we wanted to take a closer look at how brands can leverage the spectacle an event like this provides. Namely, how brands can use advertising and third-party rights to take the lead in major sporting event.

The unique character of the Olympics offers brands a wide range of advertising opportunities that require a light touch. Advertising reach as an official IOC sponsors is immense. Marketers should fully take advantage of the attention and hype surrounding an event like the Olympic Games with the right permissions.

The Olympic Sports Confederations of each country draft a summary in the run-up to the Olympics to outline what and how companies can communicate in their advertising. This very extensive presentation precisely identifies what advertisers may or may not do and includes detailed examples. In order to protect the official sponsors of the Olympic Games, other companies are prohibited from releasing advertisements that are connected to the games in any way. All promotional activities on TV, in print, OOH or in merchandise are not allowed. This causes problems on social media in particular. Any promotions that are even remotely connected to the games, athletes or current results should not be shared, re-tweeted or hash-tagged.

Advertising products or services using the Olympic symbols are strictly prohibited without the proper clearances. The Olympic Games’ emblem, five intertwined rings representing the continents in different colors, is one of the most protected logos in the world. The International Olympic Committee in Lausanne takes protection of the rings very seriously. Modifications or approximations are not permitted. The trademark PYEONGCHANG 2018 is also protected, as are the two official mascots Soohorang and Bandabi.

With the Olympic Games coming to an end, the world awaits the start of the 2018 Soccer World Cup in Russia. The rights and clearances necessary for the Olympic Games will also apply to brands at the World Cup. The upcoming World Cup is one of the biggest commercial events on earth, supported by a massive TV and online presence.

Similar to the Olympics, the FIFA World Football Association strictly prohibits the release of all references to the World Cup without prior permission. The official sponsors are guaranteed exclusivity. Non-sponsors should refrain from using FIFA-registered trademarks, such as the official logo, for commercial purposes.

In addition, major events of this kind also offer athletes the perfect opportunity to align their personal brand with advertisers. Advertisements in major sporting events wouldn’t be the same without testimonials from the athletes themselves.

Greenlight secured the personality rights from past and present champions for OMEGA’s “Recording Olympic Dreams” Campaign.

Almost every major company that sponsors the event relies on the power and emotional charge of a testimonial. Famous athletes become symbolic figures and attribute their unique personal brand to the products and services advertised. The resulting buzz may raise sales figures, and also functions as an image tool to increase awareness in social networks. Companies must ensure to apply for exclusive sponsorship of athletes well in advance of any sporting event. Late brands may find their perfect athlete sponsoring competitors!

From macro sponsorship to aligning with individual athletes, major sporting events are a fantastic playground for the advertising industry. The live drama, symbolism, and attributes all augment a brand’s unique selling proposition. Just ensure your brand has the proper permissions to play first.