5 Rule 40 Workarounds

fri5Have you noticed all the social media chatter about the International Olympic Committee’s Rule 40, the rule meant to protect the value of an Olympic sponsorship for those companies that can pony up the $10-50 million it takes to become an official sponsor of the Games? The recent controversy is actually about the U.S. Olympic Committee’s guidelines that tell brands that sponsor U.S. Olympic athletes how to comply with the IOC’s Rule 40. These guidelines include limits on what words a non-Olympic sponsoring brand can say on social media.

Earlier this week, Oiselle’s CEO, Sally Bergesen summarized why these guidelines are controversial:

Not only are we [non-sponsoring brands] not allowed to mention (tweet, post, home page, email, etc) the athletes we might have there, but as a “non-Olympic partner,” Oiselle (and any other business) is forbidden from acknowledging that the Olympics are even taking place. We cannot [retweet] official media (such as NBC Sports), we cannot wish Team USA “good luck,” we cannot use a long list of words, including Olympic, Olympiad, Olympic Games, Rio, Rio de Jeinaro, Games, Summer, 2016, Gold, Silver, Bronze, Competition, 2016, Effort, Performance, Challenge…

Official sponsors, of course, can tweet anything they want; brands that sponsor Olympic athletes, but do not sponsor the Olympic Games, cannot.

While we can’t provide legal advice, as creative people we have brainstormed five ways non-Olympic partners can get in the Olympic spirit without violating Rule 40! 

Throw the thesaurus at ’em.

“Somewhere north of Uruguay, a person engaging in two rounds of strenuous perambulation around an oval has earned our felicitations in the matter of a small, round object of a substance American Express would consider one level below platinum, but we still think it’s pretty good!”

How will Rule 40 be enforced? By Ru40, who will slap the tweeting finger of anyone violating Rule 40.

Post in a Hollywood-blind-item-style.

Which female physical activity expert has been spotted crossing the line ahead of all but two other fast-forward-moving-people on the oval that is not in Uruguay? Not naming names, but it may or may not rhyme with Lara Sloucher!

Oh look! Kittens.

Before the blackout period: kitten photos will replace the words “congratulations, Olympic, athlete, effort, challenge” etc.

During the blackout period: ? to our very own ? ? on her ?!

Pull a Bulwer-Lytton.

It was neither dark, nor stormy; the smog settled in a vast nebula over the landscape, enveloping it in gauzy silence, except at occasional intervals when whoops and cheers swept the streets (for it is north of Uruguay that our scene lies), rattling among the arenas and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of commerce that burned above the scene of not-immobile women on an oval, including one of our countrywomen whom we hail intensively due to a small round object of Element 79 having been won by her.


North of Uruguay
Element seventy-nine
Goes to our good friend.

Any other ideas for our non-Olympic partner friends?

I'm a 43-year-old living in Berlin, Germany and currently training for the 2020 Berlin Marathon.

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    1. Haha! This conjures up images of Olympic ellipticaling. Ru40 side eye for the athlete name (if only we could insert gifs in the comments!)

  1. I don’t see any mention of emojis being prohibited, to include flags and representations of medals. Perhaps someone smarter than me can create an app with an Olympic emoji package.