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Twitter has agreed to prevent brands from using the social network for Olympic 'ambush marketing' attempts.

Games organiser Locog says that it is keen to prevent non-sponsors from using the event as a marketing opportunity at the expense of official Olympic brands.

Sponsorship deals for the event have raked in £670m for Locog, so it's no wonder that it wants to protect its official advertisers.

This issue was recently highlighted by digital agency Jam, which found that non-Olympic sponsor Nike is the brand most associated with the 2012 Games and is far out-performing official sponsor Adidas in terms of recognition.

The research looked at mentions within social media, and discovered that Nike is dominating online chatter, with 7.7% of conversations about the Olympics associated with the brand.

Despite spending a reported £100m to secure the official rights, Adidas is only involved in 0.49% of conversations.

It would be fair to say that Nike’s latest ad campaign - which features Olympic athletes Paula Radcliffe and Mo Farah with the Twitter tag #makeitcount – suggests that it is an official sponsor. 

Yet the campaign doesn’t actually break any rules.

For its part, Twitter has agreed that it won’t allow non-sponsors to buy promoted Twitter ads using games-related tags such as #London2012.

It is one of several actions Locog has taken in an attempt to limit brands associating themselves with the games through social media.

As well as cracking down on brands, Locog has laid out strict rules to prevent its 70,000 volunteers – called Game Makers – from posting behind-the-scenes updates and photos to Twitter, Facebook and other social networks.

It is understandable that Locog wants to protect its official sponsors from 'ambush marketing' campaigns, and it has to be publicly seen to be clamping down on every possible avenue.

But it's impossible to truly 'police' the digital space - and these efforts, though limiting in part, won't do much to stop people making a connection between the likes of Nike and a huge sporting event.

Nike, and several others, are far too good at connecting the dots without actually drawing a line.

David Moth

Published 13 March, 2012 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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