The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has very stringent rules when it comes to advertising and sponsors. There are 11 international companies that pay around US$100 million each for 4 years of global marketing rights to sponsor the Olympics. Athletes are not allowed to take part any any marketing or advertising campaigns that are not inclusive of the 11 approved sponsors. And according to Rule 40 if they do promote their own sponsors the IOC can disqualify them.
It may seem strict, but if there weren’t regulations it would turn into a complete circus.
So, how did Dr. Dre manage to create a loophole?
Well, athletes have been wearing headphones ever since Sony created their portable Walkman back in the 70s, so it’s not exactly surprising to see many Olympians wearing headphones prior to events. In addition, Beats Electronics has a 53% market share of the ever so popular headphone market, so it’s not even surprising to see many athletes wearing Beats By Dre.
However, Olympic officials are reporting that boxes of headphones were shipped to hotels where various Olympic athletes were staying. The problem didn’t stop there.
Multiple athletes have been tweeting about their support and endorsement of the brand, and that’s where Olympic officials stepped in and reminded athletes of “the importance of protecting our corporate partners” and the infamous Rule 40.
They technically can’t prevent the athletes from wearing headphones, which are often worn to block out distractions or get into the “zone”, but they can prevent them from marketing the popular brand via social networks like Facebook or Twitter.
Here’s a look at some of the athletes we’ve already seen wearing Beats by Dre during these Olympics.