Olympic Bobsled TeamSummer may just be heating up, but advertisers should already be thinking about and planning for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games because the “Rule 40” deadline is fast approaching. The opening ceremony of the PyeongChang Olympics isn’t until February 9th of next year, but advertisers that are not official Team USA sponsors but want to include Team USA members in campaigns that run during the PyeongChang Olympics must act by August 1, 2017.

As we discussed in our previous blog post titled Golden Rules: Diving Into Rule 40, Rule 40 restricts participants in the Olympic Games from allowing their “person, name, picture or sports performances to be used for advertising during the Olympic Games.” This restriction, which is contained in a bye-law to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Charter, is administered by each country’s Olympic authority and was relaxed somewhat in 2015 to permit Olympic participants to be featured in so-called “generic” advertising during the Olympic Games.

The United States Olympic Committee (USOC), which oversees implementation of Rule 40 with respect to Team USA athletes, issued guidance in March 2017 about how advertisers should comply with Rule 40 during the PyeongChang Olympics. The USOC’s March guidance is substantively identical to the guidance it issued in June 2015 for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Below are a few key points in the guidance for advertisers:

  • Advertisers must submit their marketing campaign plans to the USOC website by August 1, 2017. Campaign submissions may be conceptual but must include all proposed tactics and a media schedule. This deadline reflects the USOC requirement that advertising campaigns are submitted six months in advance before the applicable Rule 40 restricted period.
  • The PyeongChang Olympics Rule 40 restricted period for use of Team USA members will be February 1-28, 2018.
  • Advertisements must be “generic,” meaning advertisers must not create campaigns featuring Team USA participants that include any association with the PyeongChang Games or Olympic trademarks in the advertising, and the campaign must be run continuously starting no later than October 1, 2017.
  • Advertisers must seek approval from the relevant National Olympic Committee for campaigns that will be shown outside the United States and/or that include Olympic participants from countries other than the United States.
  • Participants in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Paralympic Games are subject to restrictions similar to those imposed by Rule 40; however, the International Paralympic Committee has not yet issued its guidance on the topic.