It is said that when everything is against the rules then nothing is against the rules. But it could be said that when the rules of the game are cumbersome, there’s always gamesmanship. And what is gamesmanship? By definition, it is the art of winning by questionable means, though not technically by illegal means. So it was that the commencement of the London 2012 Olympic games meant the gamesmanship (in the form of ambush marketing) also commenced. Non-sponsors of the Olympic games are not allowed to use London 2012, Olympics or the Olympic rings in their advertising. Companies such as Adidas pay millions of British Pounds for that privilege. And as it is often said, why buy the Olympic logo when you can cash in on its cow for free. Okay, no one actually said it in those specific words – but that’s sort of what they meant.
Along came Nike, a non-sponsor of the games and other brands that are also on-sponsors. In an effort to skirt the rules and catch the buzz, they turned to creative advertising with ambush marketing campaigns. Of course, most advertising thinks of itself as creative, with some being more creative than others. Nike unveiled a series of sassy ads around London in a campaign called “Find Your Greatness.” Ads proclaimed that “greatness doesn’t need its own anthem,” for example. Alongside that, Nike also launched its Nike Global campaign, showing athletes competing in places named “London,” but not that London. There was Little London, Jamaica and London, Ohio among the locales. Of course, Nike was not the only brand involved in ambush marketing strategies. Meanwhile, such skirting of the rules sent the Olympics legal team into research mode, attempting to figure out their options. But alas, when rules are not broken, there’s no way to fix the situation. In another interesting note, the Advertising Standards Authority, banned Nike Twitter campaigns by English soccer players, for not saying they were promoted Tweets.