Red Bull Gets in Winter Olympics hot water due to retweeting a fan comment.

Thanks @iboy for giving me yet another opportunity to bring up a fantastic story about Coke, the Olympics in Lillehammer, and a Norwegian brand of orange drink called Solo who pulled an "ambush marketing" move. Coke owned those Olympics, no other soft drink was allowed near it, and everywhere within the olympic area was Coke branded banners etc. Yet, when the closing ceremony was aired, the camera did a pan to the outside of the Olympic area and blinking lights on a hill spelled out the Solo logo. This has been told to me by silverbacked adgrunts (Stein Leikanger) and even confirmed in comments here but no photographic evidence yet. Luckily NYTimes Stuart Elliott who ad-reported about it back then saw it too;

The overwhelmingly banal and boring barrage of advertising had so deleterious an impact on this sore-eyed viewer that by Sunday night it had induced hallucinations that the name of a Norwegian soft drink, Solo, was visible in twinkling lights during the closing ceremonies.
Oh. According to the Reuters news agency, there was such an ad during the ceremonies, which the brand's marketer, Solo A.B., denies approving or authorizing.

Looks like that deny deny deny tactic is older than dirt.

The Olympics are tough on advertising, only those who really fork out the big bucks to the games are allowed to play, mention it in ads, or these days even tweet about rooting for athletes as @iboy showed with this link: Red Bull, Verizon Tweets Run Afoul of Olympics Rules

Neither Red Bull or Verizon Communications is an Olympic sponsor, but both have posted items about the Vancouver Games on Twitter and Facebook.
Austria’s Thomas Morgenstern reacts Monday after his final competition jump during the Men’s ski jumping team event at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada.
That is a violation of Olympics rules, which say advertisers that don’t pay the tens of millions of dollars an official sponsorship costs may not associate themselves with the Games or the athletes during the events or the weeks surrounding them.

So when Red Bull retweeted this tweet from @henryyamamoto they broke the rules:
Here's an idea for next Winter Olympics: Get @Redbull to produce it instead of some "committee" or NBC Sports. #olympics

“When people partake in this kind of ambush behavior, it hurts American athletes,” said Lisa Baird, chief marketing officer of the U.S. Olympic Committee to Digits, though she declined to comment on any specific examples.

Red Bull argues that it's hard to stay within the guidelines as they are defined today, especially when that retweet button is so su-weet & clickable. Ok, so I made that last part up, but you know they're thinking it.

Just for fun, here's a 1994 Solo ad. Cures only thirst, ladies.

about the author

Dabitch Creative Director, CEO, hell-raising sweetheart and editor of Adland. Globetrotting Swede who has lived and worked in New York, London, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Stockholm.