Olympics organizers accuse Scotiabank of ambush marketing with new campaign

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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VANCOUVER - With less than a month to go before the Games, Olympic organizers have been quick to make their displeasure known about a campaign by Scotiabank showing fans in red and white cheering an amorphous sporting event.

Scotiabank is not a Games sponsor, and the "Show Your Colours" campaign, launched Wednesday in Vancouver, is misleading and threatens to undermine the value of Games sponsorship, said Bill Cooper, a spokesman for the Vancouver Olympic Committee.

"One thing to remember in this sort of ambush (marketing) topic is damage is caused immediately, and that's why we need to go to a resolution very, very quickly," he said.

The Royal Bank is the official Games sponsor and has been since 1947.

"The window in which RBC and others have to derive full value from their rights is a very finite window."

VANOC has asked Scotiabank to postpone the campaign, which asks Canadians to share their national pride through personal stories and photos. Camcorders are being given away as prizes.

While the campaign itself doesn't appear to use any obvious Olympic icons, several photos already posted by contest entrants include the Olympic rings and mascots.

Cooper said the timing of the campaign and its release in Vancouver, when taken in "totality," make it all too coincidental.

A Scotiabank spokeswoman released a statement saying the bank received a letter from VANOC the day before the campaign launch, resulting in "respectful discussion" and "some changes."

"We are currently reviewing the statement issued by VANOC (Wednesday) and we look forward to continuing our conversation with them to arrive at a mutually agreeable solution," Michelle Cobb said.

Cooper wouldn't say whether VANOC would launch legal action if the company doesn't comply with their requests, saying only that all avenues are being explored.

An RBC spokesman wouldn't comment on Scotiabank's campaign or if his bank asked VANOC to speak on its behalf.

"Trust and integrity are critical aspects of all of our business, including our sponsorship rights," said Chethan Lakshman.

VANOC has exclusive Canadian marketing rights to Olympic brands, meaning only official, paying sponsors are allowed to market under the brand.

Organizations: Scotiabank, RBC, Vancouver Olympic Committee

Geographic location: VANCOUVER

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