2017-12-07 20:01
Olympics hit by ambush marketing
By Kang Seung-woo

The organizing committee for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics is sparring with SK Telecom over the latter’s alleged ambush marketing.

The nation’s largest mobile carrier recently unveiled three video clips using figure skater Kim Yu-na and skeleton racer Yun Sung-bin to promote Korea’s first winter games that will run from Feb. 9 through 25, 2018     

However, deeming it illegal ambush advertising piggybacking on Olympic fever, the committee has twice asked SK to stop airing them earlier this week, which SK refused to do.

Ambush marketing is a practice in which advertisers seek to ride on the publicity value of a particular event that already has official sponsors. An example of ambush marketing at the time of the Olympic Games is cheering campaigns using the words “challenge” or “victory,” instead of Olympics-related titles and logos, to avoid issues regarding intellectual property.

The International Olympic Committee believes ambush marketing could devalue the exclusive sponsorship rights it sold to other companies and even infringe on its trademark.

SK Telecom is not an official sponsor of the PyeongChang Games, but it sponsored two campaigns of local broadcaster SBS that featured the Olympic gold medalist and honorary ambassador Kim early this month. In addition, it also sponsored KBS’s campaign starring the emerging skeleton slider Yun.

 All three clips are about encouraging Olympic athletes and end with “SEE YOU in PyeongChang” and its fifth-generation (5G) mobile technology catchphrase “Welcome to 5G Korea” as well as its logo, hinting at its own advertising phrase “See You Tomorrow.”

In addition, the Kim campaign uses the classic song “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” as background music that is also featured in SK Telecom’s own advertisement, which draws even more suspicion.

On Dec. 4 and 6, the organizing committee sent an official document urging SK to stop it.

“Nearing the Olympic Games, ambush marketing that violates intellectual property rights is increasing,” said an official of the committee.

In response, SK Telecom said it simply sponsored local broadcasters’ public campaigns, rejecting the allegations that they were ambush marketing.

In the wake of SK Telecom’s rejection, the organizing committee is seeking additional measures such as asking broadcasters to stop the campaigns.

KT, the nation’s largest fixed-line operator, is the lone official telecom sponsor of the PyeongChang Games.