Olympic merchandise naming rights resulting in unsportsmanlike behaviour
The Winter Games are fast approaching, and VANOC, which oversees Olympic naming rights, isn’t happy with the slew of Olympic-themed merchandise hitting the market—nor are official sponsors, like The Bay and Birks. Such companies as Roots, Lululemon and DSquared2 are offering Canadian-themed wares by carefully avoiding using off-limits logos (like the rings) and words (like “Olympics”), and the vitriol is flying.
Roots’ co-owner Michael Budman chastised VANOC guidelines, saying they violate “freedom of speech, freedom of the press—the free enterprise system.” Lululemon thumbed its nose at VANOC’s naming regulations by launching a “Cool Sporting Event That Takes Place in British Columbia Between 2009 and 2011” collection in December, which sold out in five days. The Bay’s VP of marketing, Patrick Dickinson, thinks retailers trying to capitalize on the Olympics without securing the official rights are “selfish.” Of Lululemon, he said, “I guess Lululemon was trying to make a point, but personally, I don’t think they made the point very well. It made them look anti-Olympic.” It’s unfortunate that mudslinging isn’t an official Olympic sport, because this year there are a few contenders for gold.