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BOCOG pledges to thwart "ambush market"

By Guan Xiaomeng (
Updated: 2007-06-13 18:33

The organizing committee for the Beijing Olympic Games (BOCOG) promised to protect the Games sponsors from "ambush markets" to protect their legal right to benefit from the Games, according to a press conference held on Wednesday.

"Only those who financially sponsor the Games have the right to market their products and maximize their commercial interests," said Chen Feng, marketing director of BOCOG.

The "ambush market" refers to those non-Olympic companies that gain commercial benefits by selling or promoting fake or unauthorized links with the Olympic Games. "For example, products with Olympic symbols like "the Olympic Games" and "Beijing 2008" produced or sold by non licensed manufacturers are 'ambush market' products," Chen explained.

The director went on to illustrate that non-sponsors who associate themselves with the Olympic Games is another kind of "ambush market". "These associations will mislead the public to believe these companies support the Games or have other links with the Olympics."

At a previous BOCOG press conference in late March, Chen slammed a watch manufacturer named Haoya because the company had a promotion slogan saying "Haoya, together with the national diving team, cheer for the Beijing Olympic Games."

"It is acceptable that Haoya support the diving team and China's sports in general, but Haoya is not allowed to associate themselves with the Olympics because the company is not a licensed one," Chen said in the March conference.

On Wednesday, the director ripped into "ambush marketing" as "hitchhiking". "Licensed sponsors pay very high prices to gain the right to benefit from the Games. If anyone could earn the benefit with a very little expense, nobody will pay the price to sponsor the Games," Chen explained.

"In marketing, we will prevent the 'ambush market' among enterprises of the same category with identical products," Chen said. Related data shows that those who try to tap into the "ambush market" are all major rivals of the licensed sponsors.

"We will give no mercy to 'ambush market' developers. If they just insist on going their own ways, we will act on them - to ask the mass media for help with criticizing them.

"Another thing is, we don't allow participating athletes to speak for non-licensed companies during the Games," Chen continued. "For example, Liu Xiang [China's Athens Olympic 110m hurdles champion] has to promise not to represent non-official sponsors during the Games when he applies to participate the Games, even though he is endorsed by Nike, a non-licensed brand," Chen replied to a reporter's question.

Other activities related to the Games will also be free from non-official sponsors, including the Torch relay and the awards ceremony uniform design contest.

"We will sign contracts with clothing companies participating in the uniform design contest to guarantee they will not take the opportunity of the Olympics to promote themselves. If they breach the contract, they will be ousted from the contest," Chen explained to at the media briefing.