Fast Company

Athens: You Have the Right to Remain...Brand Loyal!

It's a sweltering 99 degrees, the sun has been pounding for hours and you're about to take a refreshing sip of some caffeine-boosting Pepsi. As your lips touch the cool can, you hear, "Put your hands up...and the Pepsi down!" Word on the street in Athens is if you dare sip a Pepsi or try to sneak one in (or any other scandalous competitive brand that didnt pour $1 billion into an Olympic sponsorship) to the Greek games, they may not let you in or will confiscate your booty on the spot.

You'd think between geopolitical terrorist threats and rickety construction the International Olympic Committee might want to channel their energy into detecting bombs in backpacks, protecting athletes and spectators. No fear, as The London Sunday Times reported, the IOC is in high gear to protect their sponsors from "ambush marketing," an "attempt to advertise items during the games without paying sponsorship fees."

According to The Times, "Staff will also be on the lookout for T-shirts, hats and bags displaying the unwelcome logos of non-sponsors. Stewards have been trained to detect people who may be wearing merchandise from the sponsors' rivals in the hope of catching the eyes of TV audiences. Those arousing suspicion will be required to wear their T-shirts inside out."

Sure, $1 billion is a lot of cash for exclusive ad rights, but can we really penalize citizens for preferring Pepsi over Coke? Has marketing become so pervasive we genuinely fear that every Joe is secretly a stealth marketer?

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  • Halley Suitt

    This is incredible! Great post -- and now I have another astonishing fact to tell my son about the Olympics, (you could end up in jail for drinking a Pepsi) -- besides the fact that the first Olympics where done in birthday suits -- which is hearsay I suppose, but as a 9-year-old, he found it totally shocking and completely gross -- his favorite kind of thing.