Tag Archives: London 2012

Should Sports Stars Use Twitter?

Guest Post by Alex Morris.  Alex follows F1, Rallying, football and cricket. And, to his surprise, enjoyed the Olympics! By day is the Social Media Manager at Manchester based company, Cartridge Save.


2012 has been a busy year for Twitter; the London Olympics saw an unprecedented amount of Tweets and, in amongst all the big names Tweeting, controversy has kept the social media tool in the news. It’s questionable whether sports men and women should post Tweets at all; they’re athletes and prone to making decisions in the heat of the moment. There have been consistent examples in 2012 of Tweets being published without any forward thinking. It leads to the consideration of whether managers should remove their young chargers from the world of social media. To consider this, here’s a look at some of this year’s calamities.


The Olympics

Presided over by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (thankfully there is an abbreviation for this – LOCOG), the committee made it clear there would be strict rules for athletes using the social media format. With some 10,500 competitors to keep an eye on this was going to be some task for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to manage and, sure enough, Rule 40 (“no competitor, coach, trainer or official who participates in the Olympic Games may allow his person, name, picture or sports performances to be used for advertising purposes except as permitted by the IOC Executive Board.”) immediately caused controversy. In defiance, Hurdler Dawn Harper posted pictures of herself gagged with a “Rule 40” strip on Twitter. This quickly escalated into a full protest, which forced the International Olympic Committee to step in and demand control of the situation.

Although the IOC encouraged Tweeting, they made it abundantly clear it would be strictly monitored; “Postings, blogs and tweets should at all times conform to the Olympic spirit and fundamental principles of Olympism as contained in the Olympic Charter, be dignified and in good taste, and not contain vulgar or obscene words or images.” Before the Games even began Greek Triple Jumper Paraskevi “Voula” Papachristou posted racist comments targeting Africans living in Greece (“With so many Africans in Greece, the West Nile mosquitoes will be getting home food!!!”), and also retweeted a far-right politicians’ comment criticising immigration. She went on to apologise on Twitter, but she was still banned. This was followed by Swiss footballer Michel Morganella who Tweeted a disappointed post after losing 2-1 to South Korea. Translated into English it read “I want to beat up all South Koreans!” before accusing them of being mentally handicapped. There were immediate calls for the 23 year old to be banned.

On a lighter note, the BBC’s Denise Lewis, a former athlete, was mocked for her continuous misuse of “literally”. Many Twitter users found this mistake highly annoying; at one stage Lewis claimed, “Jess Ennis’s entrance will literally blow the roof off the stadium.” Inadvertently she caused a flood of spoof responses.



The most high profile embarrassment this year came with Ashley Cole’s verbal assault on the FA in early October. Following the unfortunate, and embarrassing, John Terry racism conviction, Cole posted a profane Tweet mocking the FA. Gary Lineker was one of the many who followed up this remark with a Tweet suggesting Cole apologise to the FA; others suggested he had put his career on the line. Eventually he did express his regret (through his solicitor), however, Cole wasn’t finished there! Having flirted with disaster once he followed this up with a highly public row with Alan Shearer regarding the England line-up. This resulted in Cole criticising the former England captain; “Alan Shearer says @TheRealAC3 needs to be banned for comments. I want his opinion on bans for kicking Neil Lennon in the head. #GlassHouses”. A further scan down his account shows his attitude towards fans; “Lol, jokers, don’t boo me then get angry because I tweet, its all fun so #takeachilpill”. With Cole it seems to be a case of controlling his outspoken nature, especially as Chelsea’s manager, Roberto Di Matteo, confirmed the left back would face punishment by his club; “We’ve got a social media policy [here] and there’s going to be a disciplinary process – action – against the tweet.”

Cole has now been charged by the FA with Misconduct and has until 16:00 on Thursday 11th October to respond.  ITV has run with ‘Top 10 footballers who got Twitter wrong‘ which makes interesting reading.


Formula One

Most of the F1 drivers on Twitter are well behaved. One driver stands out. Lewis Hamilton continuously lands himself in trouble with his trigger happy Tweet button. In August he dismayed his McLaren team when he, in a fit of frustration, posted pictures of his rear wing and qualifying telemetry onto his Twitter account. He quickly removed the posts and apologise.

In early October he made another blunder following a disappointing Japanese Grand Prix. After the announcement of his defection to the Mercedes team for 2013 he, for reasons best kept to himself, believed team-mate Jenson Button had snubbed him on Twitter, “Just noticed @jensonbutton unfollowed, thats a shame. After 3 years as teammates, I thought we respected one another but clearly he doesn’t.” An hour later he realised what was actually going on, “My bad, just found out Jenson never followed me. Don’t blame him! Need to be on Twitter more.” Unfortunately he’s making these blunders before his 1.1 million followers and the world’s media. Perhaps it’s time he got a press officer.



For casual observers and fans these antics can often be hilarious and a true illumination of our heroes and heroines. For the organisers, team owners and managers they can be a nightmare, whilst for competitors they can be career ending. What is clear is how it is only a few individuals who are using the platform for a means to express offensive views; others are simply not thinking about team spirit when they launch their latest Tweet. Perhaps soon it will be mandatory for the world’s top sports stars to have Tweets approved by press officers – until they can prove they’re capable of behaving themselves it would appear to be the best solution!


UKSN presents: Interview with Team GB Digital Manager, Joe Morgan

UKSN is delighted to give you Part 2 of our offering from Team GB.  This time Joe has taken some time out to answer questions around Team GB and London 2012.  He’s been a busy man this week with appearances on the Socialympics and SMW Gold panels looking back to this years Games as part of Social Media Week London.

What role does Twitter play in your job & in your view, what role has Twitter played during London 2012? (do you have any stats on which events created most Twitter activity?)

As Digital Manager for Team GB one of my main focuses was engaging the nation & gaining the best support that Team GB had ever seen at an Olympic Games. Now London 2012 is over we can reflect on what was truly the first social media Olympic Games, the huge growth in mobile & social since Beijing 2008 brings no surprise that it was also the first Games to be told in 140 characters.

Twitter provided a direct link between Team GB, our athletes, the sports & our fans.  It was personal, social media has brought to the table this notion of inclusiveness, collaboration, its not about you & them, its about us, sharing the journey through conversation and content with the social community.

Twitter allowed us to keep our fans informed around the clock, to report on the highs, the lows, the medals, the close shaves and everything in between. It has allowed the people of the world who were not fortunate enough to be at the games, to be a part of the whole experience.

What are the plus points of using Twitter from the athletes’ point of view?

Twitter is all about sharing short, bite sized updates which, now with smartphones, is incredibly easy for athletes to use the platform to communicate with their fans. Athletes tweeting about their training, social life & thoughts of worlds make their fans feel connected & a part of their life

London 2012 saw some hair raising performances and the roar of the crowds that went with it, but those roars were not just in the stadium, the roars can from around the world via twitter. It was the place for athletes to share their journey, cheer on their fellow athletes, and invite their fans to be a part of the story.

What are the positives of Twitter for sports fans?

Sporting events & social media are a perfect match, since they are both real time in their very nature. You can see this before a gun has even been fired or a javelin thrown, the excitement pre Olympics was everywhere but its extension into social means fans worldwide can get involved – even if they are not at the event itself, twitter helps keep fans in the know on their favorite team & athletes.

Since Twitter is real time, latest updates, scores, & results are often received much quicker – our sporting world is no longer up to minute but up the second and social media very much aids the fans experience. You could be in venue and want to know interesting facts, behind the scenes content or what the coach said at half time or between heats or you could be on holiday & not near a TV to you are being kept in the know through social media sports commentary.

For me, the best bit is the content thats from the fans rather than the media, which is always more passionate – fans love talking with other fans about their team or favorite athletes and social media brings those fans together and allows the team to facilitate those conversations.

How much time did you spend planning the social media activity?

Since day one and it’s been an ever evolving plan, the games time social media plan was being developed in the months leading up to the games but was never set in stone, and it was never intended to be a rigid plan, it was a flexi-strategy which evolved during the games based on what worked and what didn’t, evolved based on what our fans were asking for and what the hot topics were.

The strategy was actually very simple, give the fans great content and keep them engaged through the journey of London 2012, we wanted them to feel a part of Team GB, which is the basis of our campaign, Our Greatest Team.

This has been the true first social Olympics & in previous games, the Olympics have been a curated experience with broadcasters and the mass media in control of what the viewers at home see. Now the power is with the fans to consume the Olympics the way they want & that is why we wanted all of our fans to be a part of the Olympic experience, through our social channels.

How are you writing your updates to ensure you get maximum likes, comments and shares from followers? Which are the ones which have really generated a lot of engagement? Any tips and tricks to share?

I always say you should try to lead or leave with a question (or an action), social media is a conversation after all, and just keep it simple. Give the fans what they want and don’t be afraid to ask them to do things for you. For example we shared a photo of Gemma Gibbons & her broken thumb on Facebook and ask our fans to show THEIR thumbs to wish her a speedy recovery, which they gladly did.

Would also say be consistent, we made sure we covered all events and all sports, we made sure we reported on HT/FT scores, race positions, medal winners and even those that didn’t win.

How has the power of social media impacted the running of the games?

This has truly been the first social Olympics. In previous games, the Olympics have been a curated experience with broadcasters and the mass media in control of what the viewers at home see. Now the power is with the fans to consume the Olympics the way they want.

An idea of the scale of support for Team GB through social media?

I don’t think anyone expected the level of support that Team GB received, not just from social media but from the nation on a whole, it seemed as if everyone got caught up in the Olympics spirit and got behind our athletes

We of course expected there to be a spike in social membership and engagement but not to the level that we saw.

What are your views on the negative tweets some athletes receive making the news (Tom Daley).  Has this had an impact on your activity at all?

We had a team in place to monitor all social activity around the clock, so were alerted to such tweets quickly and were able to deal with them.  In this particular case, the user is looking for attention, and that’s the last thing we are going to be giving him or the tweets, so we aimed to deal with it quickly & quietly so we can minimize the affect on the athletes or the sport.

What was the main objective for you guys with your social media campaigns?

Our campaign was titled “Our Greatest Team – 900 Athletes, 60 Million Strong” – we wanted to engage the nation, we wanted to reach out to those 60 million people and make them feel a part of the journey, a part of the Our Greatest Team. It was all about inclusiveness.

Our two objectives were about building a fan base for the future, in Beijing this was measured by eCRM database size, in London 2012 is measured on social media membership.

Secondly where engagement levels, we wanted our athletes, our brand, our campaign and our content to reach 60 million people. I am proud to say that did that on Facebook alone (62,000,000 people reached in the two weeks with our content)

How big was your social media team?

I had two separate teams in place. A social media sports commentary team made up of 4 volunteers who were based at Team GB HQ working 8 hour daily shifts to cover 8am til 12 midnight

The other team were based up in Camden & were responsible for monitoring the digital landscape 24/7

How did you managed to curate and organise the sheer volume of content for your channels?

Through planning & flexibility.

The social media team were working 8 hour daily shifts to cover 8am til 12 midnight throughout the games. Daily schedules were in place to ensure all Team GB events and athletes were being reported on in real time.

I did a day long work shop with my social media team to full brief them on the full strategy, tone of voice, crisis management procedure, even planning future hashtags like #aMOzingg (two g’s for two golds) and #GoldenHoy – every day we managed to get around 4 or 5 hashtags trending which was fantastic to see.

Since day one the social media strategy has been an ever evolving plan, the strategy was being developed in the months leading up to the games but was never set in stone, and it was never intended to be a rigid plan, it was a flexi-strategy which evolved during the games based on what worked and what didn’t, evolved based on what our fans were asking for and what the hot topics were.

My team were given that flexibility and encourage to bring new ideas to the table on a daily basis to mix things up and keep things fresh

Would you say your content was more video or image based?

Predominantly image based, mainly due to the restrictions around in venue video content. The biggest interest from our fans were in how our athletes were performing on the field of play, which with the real time sports commentary, we complimented with rich photo content from PA and Getty Images. Within 5 minutes of our athletes finishing a match or getting a medal, we will have that iconic image from the wire and pushed straight out across social.

What were the main ‘trending’ topics?

These were changing ten-fold every hour based on what was happening on the field of play. We had pre planned a lot of hashtags ready for when certain results may come in. #GoMo, #GoldenHoy, #GoldWednesday #aMOzingg #BigBen – all hashtags we managed to get trending within 60 seconds of the athletes medaling. It was great for not only Team GB but for the recognition and awareness of the athletes and the sports

What was the split like between UK active users and the rest of the world? Which countries stood out etc

On twitter – 92% was UK with 2% USA

On Facebook – 91% was UK with USA and AUS 2nd and 3rd


Thanks Joe!  Make sure you follow him at @mrjoemorgan 

Guest Post: Team GB and the Socialympics

Guest Post:  This is part 1 of 2 in a deeper look into the digital objectives and successes of Team GB during London 2012. In this article Joe Morgan, Online Editor and Digital Manager at Team GB, gives us his unique summary of how it went. 

As London 2012 comes to a close we can now reflect on what has truly been the first Social Media games.

The huge growth in mobile & social brings no surprise that this was the first Olympic Games to be told in 140 characters, although TV viewers worldwide only grew from 4.7 billion in 2008 to an estimated 4.9 billion in 2012, Facebook has grown from 100 to 900 million active users, Twitter from 100 million tweets per yearly quarter to 340 million tweets per day & Smartphones up 456% from 18.9 million to 106.7 million (Sources = Neilsen, eMarketer, Forrester)

We took a fresh approach to how we communicate online with our audience, social media had brought to the table this notion of inclusiveness, collaboration, its not about you & them, its about us, sharing conversations and content with the social community.

Our aim for London 2012 was to engage the nation, to keep our fans informed around the clock, to report on the highs, the lows, the medals, the close shaves and everything in between

When it came to the social strategy I wanted to keep it simple; rich content, in real time, around the clock, that aimed to inform, inspire, engage and educate our audiences.

We employed a team of 4 volunteers named the “Social Media Sports Commentators” who were trained up & briefed with our ambition & strategy, who then worked 8 hour daily shifts to divide and conquer all of the events GB were competing in.

We kept our fans engaged and informed through the 17 days, from posting photos of medal winning moments, to behind the scenes videos from Team GB house to letting our fans choose our daily cover photo on Facebook. We weren’t afraid to ask our fans for things in return either, for example when Gemma broke her thumb in her silver medal winning match, we posted a photo with her & her cast, asking fans to show THEIR thumbs to wish Gemma  speedy recovery.

As a way for fans to feel included, we created a real time fan gallery that showed the fan story of the Olympics through the power of photos. We wanted to create a pin board of stories from our fans, wherever they were in the world, who ever they were cheering from in GB, we wanted to see their story and invited them to do through photos. http://photos.teamgb.com

Lastly, we launched Team GB LIVE put London 2012 into the hands of our fans, providing them with a truly customized Olympic experience. It allowed fans to stay completely up to date with all the latest news and plan their Olympics with the full, interactive Team GB event schedule. Fans could customise their desktop or mobile app by choosing only the athletes, sports and venues they wanted to follow and get every London 2012 result LIVE as Our Greatest Team took on the rest of the world.

With the evolution of sport viewing habits, Team GB LIVE was a revolutionary platform where you could build your own personal Olympic experience and follow just the things you like.

So what is next for Our Greatest Team and Team GB in terms of social and digital media? We will of course see a sharp decline in engagement levels, that is to be expected, but our job is far from over.

For past few weeks we have been talking about our athletes and the Team & how they have inspired the nation and made us all proud, which leads into legacy. Legacy is emotive, it’s the heroes, the inspiration the memories and with that we will invite the nation to share their legacy, tell us their stories and memories and what has inspired them.

What we have built over the course of the campaign is an online fan base for Team GB, we have built up the awareness of our sports and athletes and we now have over 1.6 million people we can talk to on a daily basis, with each and every one of them wanting to talk back.

Facts & Stats

Digital & social

  • During the 17 days of London 2012, 306 billion pieces of content where shared across the Open Web. That is 208,233 shares per second. Source = RediumOne
  • Over 620% increase of Team GB social media fans/followers during the Olympics Games
  • Over 2000% increase of Team GB social media fans/followers since the start of the Our Greatest Team campaign in March


  • Over 35 million people engaged with #TeamGB or #OurGreatestTeam
  • Closing Ceremony tweet received over 65,000 Re-Tweets & Opening Ceremony Tweet received 45,000 Re-tweets
  • #OurgreatestTeam averaged at 542,000 views per day with peaks on August 4th/12th at over 750,000.
  • #TeamGB averaged at 1.8 million views per day with peaks again on August 4th/12th at over 2.8 million.


UKSN to chair global keynote with London 2012 Head of New Media, Alex Balfour

Tomorrow sees the start of the acclaimed Social Media Week here in London and I’m delighted to have been asked to chair a ‘fireside chat’ with Alex Balfour.  Alex has been at the forefront of bringing to the world the most social Olympics there has ever been and no doubt encountered many challenges, as well as successes, along the way.

Opening this Social Media Week you will hear about the trials, tribulations and successes behind the digital success of the games.  For 6 years he has devoted his life to making sure everything has been prefect and overseen the development of the London 2012 website, mobile apps and social media presence.

Get the inside story on delivering the digital experience for the world’s best games.  The numbers are staggering: At LOCOG, Alex’s six years of work culminated in the delivery of 77 digital channels including london2012.com, volunteering, education, online shop, mobile apps and social media presences. During the 16 days of the Olympic Games London 2012 channels recorded 431m visits, 109m unique users, 15m app downloads, 4.73bn page views and 4.7m social followers.

Prior to his work on the London Olympics, he co-founded CricInfo.com from a raw start up into a profitable business with 20 million customers and 140 staff in eight countries. He raised £25 million in four funding rounds and generated £2m of profitable turnover making CricInfo the only independent sports dotcom to survive the boom and bust of the late 90s. CricInfo was sold to ESPN in the summer of 2007.

Now here’s your chance to get involved.  If you have any questions you’d like me to put to Alex tomorrow then please leave them in the comments section or tweet me on @DanielMclaren or @UKSportsNetwork.
I’ll select my favourites and ask them to Alex tomorrow morning…… so get writing!

Tweets per minute breaks 100k for 100m Final

This post is taken from The Wall Blog

Usain Bolt’s victory in Sunday night’s 100 meter final saw twitter reaction peak 33 seconds after his lightening 9.63 second Olympic victory with 2,360 tweets per second.

Tweets per minute peaked at 105,000 – four times the peak level witnessed during the opening ceremony according to Starcom MediaVest Group’s analysis using EchoScreen.

Bolt was the clear number one on Twitter as well as in the final itself, generating over 1.5 million tweets on Sunday evening versus 320,000 for Silver medalist Yohan Blake.

TeamGB’s extraordinary weekend was cheered all the way – on super Saturday alone the home team generated over 1.3m twitter name checks.

Jessica Ennis was the winner of all GB athletes on super Saturday with 293,000 tweets, but over the whole weekend it was Andy Murray who came out top with 829,000 compared to Ennis in second place with 346,000.

Read more: http://wallblog.co.uk/2012/08/06/bolt-claims-twitter-gold-infographic/#ixzz22lbgCiWz

30m Olympic Tweets & much more from Week One of the Games

Last night was expected to see the 30m Olympic related tweet barrier broken.  Not bad for the first 7 days of the event as Twitter, as expected, has become the platform of choice for the Games.  It has grown so rapidly and become more important by the day in everyday life that we saw more tweets in the first day of London 2012 than the whole of the 2008 Beijing games combined– there were only 4m users back then!  This demonstrates the ever growing role twitter is playing in people’s enjoyment of live sports.

There have been other notable moments in this first week of the event.  Some athletes have voiced their displeasure about rule 40 on twitter. This conversation has also been amplified by Wired and MC Hammer and will be something that will become harder to govern and a source of debate for a long time top come.

There has also been an interesting debate on the impact of Twitter on the Olympics on ESPN.  Its interesting to hear opinions of those on the other side of the pond including Jason Falls, someone I have followed on Twitter for a long time.  Much of the brief conversation was around Rule 40 and whether athletes should be able to promote their sponsors or if they have to live by the IOC rules.  Here is the article and video.

Tom Daley has been one of the most talked about athletes at the Games.  He was mentioned 300k times in one day alone. The majority of this revolves around the fact that the man that abused him on Twitter had been arrested. The rest has come from admiring boys and girls. (31st July)

Bradley Wiggins dominated conversations with 140k tweets mentioning him. He has also been mentioned by high profile British figures such as the Prime Minister. (1st August)

Twitter have launched an interesting initiative with the organisers as they installed new cameras in Olympic venues all over London. They are tweeting fantastic photos with a “behind the scenes” perspective you can’t get anywhere else. Locations include underwater at the aquatic center, from the backboard of the basketball hoop, and the roof of Olympic Park.Here are the six cameras you can follow:

@L2012BballCam – over the basketball hoop
@L2012PoolCam – underwater in the aquatics center
@L2012GymCam – looking down onto the rhythmic gymnastics mat
@L2012TableCam – looking down onto the table tennis table
@L2012StadiumCam – on the Olympic Stadium roof, looking down onto the track
@L2012MatCam – looking down onto the judo/wrestling mat

Recently we saw a new face on Twitter as BBC presenter and former Olympian Ian Thorpe (@IanThorpe) signed up and sent his first Tweet. Do you think he has been influenced the huge band of BBC presenters who are also on the platform?

The Socialympics Begin with 9.6m Tweets on Opening Night!

Friday night saw the start of the Olympic Games, for most anyway as the football and archery started early, with the Opening Ceremony.  The British public are always the most cynical when it comes to what we can achieve as a nation and few would have anticipated what was to come from Danny Boyle and his team of thousands.

In total there were 9.66m tweets mentioning the Opening Ceremony from the time it started at 8pm until the end of the broadcast in the US.  Twitter has proved itself to not only be the place for breaking news but also an extension of our outpouring of emotions.  If we love or hate something it is the platform we go to tell people.

The inventor of the internet, Tim Berners-Lee (@timberners_lee), who made a surprise appearance in the ceremony tweeted from the stage and gained almost 10,000 retweets.

There were tweets from celebrities, athletes taking part in the ceremony, official accounts posting pictures every few minutes and people watching on TV at home or in bars.  It was an event we knew would break all records on the platform and will continue to do so during the tournament as the big finals come about.

It was an amazing event and one we should all be proud of.  The infusion of the british sense of humour was a masterstroke, especially the appearances of The Queen in the James Bond sequence and Rowan Atkinson (as Mr Bean) within the orchestra playing Chariots of Fire.

We are going to get a better insight into what happens during a Games and what athletes get up to whilst in the village over the next 3 weeks than ever before.  The best way to follow it is to set up a list of your favourite athletes (the @TeamGB account has a list of their athletes already for you to follow).  It’s well worth doing.

Here are a selection of our favourite tweets and pictures that helped start London 2012 off with such a bang.

The Socialympics

Iain Taker is an associate lawyer at Kemp Little LLP (iain.taker@kemplittle.com), specialising in commercial contracts, social media and sports law, and is a registered lawyer under the FA Football Agency Regulations. You can follow him on twitter @iaintaker or on LinkedIn


The laws implemented for the London Olympic Games are the most stringent ever introduced by a host country and involve some concepts never previously covered by Olympic legislation.  This article will briefly look at the new legislation that has been enacted, what an infringing act consists of, the defences and exemptions , penalties and gives some suggestions as to what a brand (a non-official sponsor) should do.

July and August this year will see the 30th modern Olympic games in London but interestingly it will be the first time social media will truly be used to embrace the event.  Four years ago in Beijing there was had no official integration with social media platforms a simply amazing thought. At that time the respective user figures for Facebook and Twitter was 100m and 6m. Since then those figures have skyrocketed to 845m and 140m respectively.  One effect of the increased social media awareness is the implementation, and effect, of new legislation that surround and protect the London Olympics.

The commentary below looks at the situation from the perspective of a brand who has no official affiliation with the event.



Direct engagement and dialogue between brands and customers is one of the beauties of social media, which blurs the ‘us’ and ‘them’ distinction. It is this blurring that makes application of the new legislation so difficult. The key pieces of relevant (specific) legislation are:

(1) the ‘Olympic Association Right’ (OAR) and ‘Paralympic Association Right’ (PAR); and
(2) the ‘London Olympic Association Right’ (LOAR).

The OAR was introduced by the Olympic Symbol etc. Protection Act 1995 as amended in 2006 (one amendment was the introduction of PAR). OAR/PAR confer exclusive rights in relation to use of the Olympic Symbol, the Olympic motto and the protected words (for a full list see the LOCOG brand guidance), where such are used without the necessary consent. LOAR was also introduced in the 2006 amendments and grants exclusive rights in relation to any representation, which is likely to suggest to the public that there is an association between the person, goods or services and the Olympic Games in London. It has intentionally been drafted to be vague, broad and far-reaching in order to cover any use which might create an association with the London Olympics. The right has the potential to be most far-reaching and subjective intellectual property right within the UK.

As with all pieces of new legislation there has, and continues to be, significant challenges of interpretation and questions.  Some of the questions are answered by LOCOG’s guidance for brands and advertisers, however the new rules relating to social media are somewhat of a challenge to fully understand.  The result is that there are a number of brands, moderators and digital marketing agencies who are still seeking guidance as to what they are entitled to do and say just weeks before the event commences.



None of the rights will be infringed unless there is use, in the course of trade, in relation to goods or services, where the infringer does not have the Olympics authorities’ consent.  One unusual aspect is that where the brand owner/marketing agency is accused of breaching the OAR/PAR the burden of proof is reversed.  In effect the brand is deemed guilty unless they are able to prove that they are innocent (the opposite is true for any LOAR infringement).  Additional restrictions imposed on brands include prohibitions on using Olympics tickets as part of a competition and holding conferences or seminars on the topic of the Olympics.

When establishing whether an infringement of LOAR has occurred a court may take account of whether the “listed expressions” (see below) have been used.  While the listed expressions are a helpful guide it is not the not thing that a court will look at.  However, when two words from List A are used together or one from List A with one from List B they will be a heavier weighting towards an assumption that an association has been created and thus the brand will have infringed LOAR.

List A words: Games, Two thousand and twelve, 2012 and Twenty twelve.

List B words: Gold, Silver, Bronze, London, Medals, Sponsor and Summer.


Olympic symbols and words can be used where there is an exemption or defence. The two most relevant defences/exemptions to the legislation are where the content is:

1. A statement which “accords with honest practices” – as no association will be created.  LOCOG clarified that key factors will include:

a. is the statement true and accurate?;

b. is there any suggestion or implication of a connection with the Olympics?;

c. is there any unfairness to the interests of the Olympic authorities and sponsors?; and

d. is the context of use relevant?

2. Part of publishing or broadcasting of a report or information about the Olympics. Where there is a genuine journalist report the use will be exempt.  It is important to note that while brands cannot use this exemption to sponsor a news broadcast or conferences, “marketing collateral” (such as corporate newsletters) are exempt.  Whether a brand can report on events via social media channels unhappily remains a grey area.


An important aspect of the preventative nature of the new legislation is the penalties (in addition to adverse publicity) that can be applied for infringements.

Civil penalties

Infringement of OAR/PAR and/or LOAR can result in civil penalties.  The penalties that can incurred include damages, an account of profits, injunctions, order for delivery-up of offending assets, erasure of offending signs and/or disposal.

Criminal penalties

In addition to the civil penalties infringements of OAR/PAR can also result in criminal sanctions.  An example of an infringement which can attract criminal sanctions is if a brand has a view to gain for itself or another, or with an intent to cause loss to another (e.g. an official sponsor) and without the necessary consent applies a controlled representation to goods or packaging. On summary conviction the maximum fine is £20,000 and conviction on indictment the fine is unlimited.

What should a brand do?

It is therefore advisable to only provide social media content that is giving relevant, accurate and factual information.  All pictures, video and audio content should be moderated prior to use to ensure that no association will be conferred by its use.  Additionally brands should update their moderation guidelines to cater for the OAR/PAR and LOAR.

Where a brand is re-tweeting user generated content they must consider the consequences as if the content was initiated by the brand themselves.  Therefore brands should not encourage Olympic themed content from users or pass on specific expressions of support or excitement that refer to the games or individuals within the games. In short wherever there is a risk of an association (or use of symbols or words) with the Olympics brands must be very careful prior to using such content.

Under LOAR a brand cannot be “associated with” the London Olympics, an association is defined as suggesting any kind of contractual or commercial relationship, and kind of corporate connection or provision of financial or other support (such as sponsorship or free services).  Where a brand has any uncertainty over content both generated on their behalf and by users the content should be deleted to avoid any potential further infringement/damage being caused.

LOAR was created in part due to previous ‘creative’ methods of brands in the past to circumvent previous legislation.  Opposed to focussing on set instances that are covered LOAR seeks to focus on the overall impact of an activity.  Therefore brands should look not only to the letter of the new legislation but also to the spirit.  Ambush marketing has been a significant issue in previous Olympic games and the authorities hope that the introduction of the LOAR will prevent it occurring in London.


OAR/PAR and LOAR offer the Olympic authorities more broad and significant rights than ever before in the fight to avoid ambush marketing.  It is however, likely to be a consequence that the first ‘Social Olympics’ will see a number of brands test the boundaries of these pieces of legislation as they seek to engage with their customers.

It is uncertain the extent to which LOCOG will (and will be able to) enforce these powers where a brand is ‘innocently infringing’ with many commentators believing that the powers are predominately there to prevent severe examples of activities that would constitute intentional infringement under the new legislation e.g. Nike during the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.  Professor Simon Chadwick has said that LOCOG will be using specialist intelligence/policing squads in conjunction with agreements with social media sites such as Twitter to police the new legislation.  Whether this will be sufficient or even over-kill awaits to be seen.

The effective result of the introduction of the legislation is a situation where many brands are still having difficulty in establishing exact guidelines as what they are permitted to do without infringing. Helpful guidance can however be found at The Guardian and the Committee of Advertising Practice.

BBC Sport launches beta Facebook App ahead of Olympics

BBC Sport yesterday launched a Facebook application offering audiences live streams of major sports events, including Wimbledon and up to 24 streams of Olympics coverage. This is the first time the BBC has live streamed events on Facebook.

The app will deliver a rich social viewing experience, plugging online audiences into the communal excitement of big sports moments. You can watch events with friends who are also online and chat together about the action as it happens, while comment threads under each stream enable you to take the pulse of reaction from the Facebook community in real time.

Press play on a stream, or ‘Like’ it, and it is shared with your friends via the Facebook news feed. The in-app Activity Stream updates in real time to show you what your friends are watching, allowing you to discover events beyond your favourites.

A beta version of the app is launched today for Wimbledon, offering BBC’s network TV coverage plus up to six extra match streams from across the courts, as well as comment threads and sharing features. Live chat functionality will be added in time for the Olympics. Access the app here(you need to be logged in to Facebook to access the app).

Phil Fearnley, General Manager BBC News & Knowledge, said: “It’s a core part of the BBC’s mission to bring our quality content to audiences wherever they are, so I’m very excited to be able to offer sport fans on Facebook a really distinctive live streaming experience.

“With our Facebook app we aim to bring even greater value to our online audiences, enabling them to watch together and share their excitement. We hope to use it to test the benefits of social viewing, as part of our ambition to deliver more innovative and transformative experiences to sports fans.”

Alongside the new Facebook app, audiences can watch BBC Summer of Sport coverage online at bbc.co.uk/sport, on mobile and tablet, on connected TVs, and via the Red Button. By bringing audiences the action whenever they want, wherever they are, the BBC is making sure they never miss a moment of an epic year of sport from the BBC.


London 2012 launch mobile app

This weekend has seen the London 2012 organisers LOCOG release the first of two mobile apps that will be available to sports fans at the Games this year.

The first one is called ‘Join In’ and is available on Android and IOS (sadly not Blackberry….which is the phone I still have).   The app is designed to allow fans to “plan, enjoy and share your Games experience”.

Seb Coe, Chair of LOCOG, said: ‘This app is a great example of how we are bringing the Games to life for a new generation – inspiring people around the world to get involved. As the Games get closer, we encourage people everywhere to share their Olympic experience with the world, whether they have tickets for a sporting event or not’.

Interestingly it is fully integrated with Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare  – enabling fans to share their experiences, plans (you could allow friends to see where you are planning to go and where to meet up).  The area called ‘My Games’ means anyone can create their own personal schedule, an interesting (and useful) feature.

Its key features include comprehensive events listings for thousands of exciting events across London and UK; and spectator information and interactive maps, news and photos.  There is so much going on both in stadia and outside with thousands of events, parties, etc going on (any spare invites feel free to send them this way!).

Other great features that will be interesting to see in action include the use of Augmented Reality.  Fans will be able to use their camera phone to view overlays showing the key venues.

Key features include:

What’s on: full and up-to-date event listings for thousands of exciting activities, including free events, across London and the UK – find out what’s happening near you, on an hour-by-hour basis.

Torch today: view the Olympic Torch Relay with street-level routes for 1000+ communities over 70 days, and details of Torchbearers. View the current Torch position in real time using the Torch Tracker function. See daily video highlights and photos as the Torch Relay unfolds.

Paralympic Torch Relay: find out about the Flame Festivals taking place across the UK in August.

See and do: full listings for London 2012 Festival cultural events, big screens (Live Sites) and hundreds of free events and celebrations taking place.

Spectator guide: get searchable maps, details of facilities, augmented reality views and information about how to get the best out of your historic day out.

Plan your journey: plan the best route to get to competition venues.

Road events: find out about free medal events such as the Marathon and Road Cycling Race, including route information and where to watch them.

Jump to: interactive, searchable maps of the Olympic and Paralympic Torch Relays, the UK, London and the Olympic Park.

Detail maps: access and seating maps for the Olympic Park and 20+ venues.

Live updates: news, photos and social commentary from the Games.

My Games: create a personal schedule creation to help you plan your Olympic and Paralympic experience.

Facebook, Twitter and FourSquare integration: tweet, upload photos, post to your wall, check-in and let your friends know what you’re doing.

Augmented Reality: use your camera phone to view overlays showing the key venues.

The Official London 2012 Join in app and Official London 2012 Results app are part of a family of digital tools that will be released during the summer, including:

  • The IOC’s Olympic Athlete’s Hub (http://hub.olympic.org) launched in April, a directory of verified athlete social media accounts, with rewards for active fans and exclusive content.
  • The London 2012 Games-time website, http://www.london2012.com, which will be the ultimate authority on the Games with comprehensive, unbiased provision of results and Games information. The site is fully accessible, including content in British Sign Language and easyread formats.
  • Enhanced London 2012 presences on Facebook and Twitter, including many new accounts, sports and image feeds and some surprises.
  •  A Twitter-based competitive tweeting challenge.
  •  Visualisations and infographics.
  •  Official London 2012 mobile, online and social games.

The second companion app, the London 2012 Results App, will be released next month.  It will provide the information not covered by the first one including results,, latest news, schedules and live action across both Olympic and Paralympic sports.