MARKETING MIX: IOC gets camera shy over Sony

Serious ructions at the International Olympic Committee's conference on Sport and New Media last week. The IOC, as we all know, has long been anxious to protect the rights of sponsors by buying up poster sites and the like in host cities for use by official backers of the Games.

Nothing wrong with that - the sponsors, among them Kodak and Panasonic, pay big bucks for exclusivity in their product categories. Ambush marketing undermines their brands' association with the Olympic movement.

Nevertheless, it seems that in Lausanne last week, the IOC may have taken its crusade a little bit too far.

Among the exhibitors at the conference was Sony, which was keen to show off the latest in digital camera technology. In fact, Sony was so keen to strut its stuff it paid about pounds 23,000 for the privilege.

But no sooner had Sony begun to flash its cameras than IOC marketing officials stormed the Sony booth and tore down its display of pictures.

An IOC director is then understood to have straddled an imaginary boundary within which Sony could use its cameras, saying: 'The legal line you cannot cross is the crotch of the communications director.'

Kodak and Panasonic, the two sponsors whose rights were supposedly being infringed, were surprisingly unavailable for comment.

But the whole fiasco begs the question: if the IOC was so fervently determined to prevent Sony from demonstrating its equipment, why did it let it exhibit in the first place?


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