Australian Olympic Committee takes Telstra to court over misleading advertising

Association says the telco's ads linking the brand to the 2016 Olympic Games are misleading consumers

Telstra is being taken to court by the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) after the telco launched what many see as a guerrilla marketing campaign linking its brand to the 2016 Games in 2016.

The campaign, which launched earlier this month, was focused on promoting the Channel Seven Olympics App and used a modern version of the Peter Allen classic, ‘I go to Rio’. The campaign also initially featured the line ‘official technology partner’ for the Seven Olympics Games broadcast.

Within days of launching, the campaign was adjusted by Telstra and a statement added to clarify its unofficial status with the AOC after the latter raised legal concerns about the way the advertisements positioned the telco.

Telstra was official partner to the AOC until 2015, when the pair parted ways. In December, rival telco, Optus, inked a 10-year agreement with the association to be the official telecommunications partner until 2026.

The AOC lodged official legal action through the Australian Federal Court on Friday afternoon. In a statement, the association said it felt it was necessary to uphold the rights of official sponsors for this year’s games.

“The Australian Olympic Committee relies on commercial partners to fund the Olympic Teams that represent our country at the Olympic Games, Olympic Winter Games and Youth Olympic Games,” the AOC statement read. “Without them, we would not be in a position to send 410 athletes to the Olympic Games in Rio.

“Commercial partners also help the AOC promote Olympic values and programs throughout the country on a year-round basis. Unfortunately, some companies try to mislead the Australian public into believing they support the Australian Olympic Team or have an involvement with the Olympic movement when they don’t.”

The AOC said the ads were a clear attempt to mislead consumers about Telstra’s association with the 2016 Olympics team. It also stated firmly that Telstra is not a sponsor of the Australian Olympics team and has no official role with the Olympic movement.

“It is therefore extremely disappointing to witness Telstra’s ‘I go to Rio’ marketing campaign, which the AOC regards as a clear attempt to deceive Australians,” the statement continued.

“Despite repeated attempts for cooperation, today the AOC has been left with no choice but to seek appropriate legal measures in the Federal Court.”

A Telstra spokesperson confirmed the telco updated its advertising after the AOC initially raised concerns and stated the ads were solely focused on promoting the commercial agreement between it and Channel Seven.

“Telstra has an existing commercial partnership with the Seven Network. Our current advertising simply promotes that commercial arrangement and that Telstra customers get free access to premium content through the Seven app,” the spokesperson stated.

“The AOC raised concerns with us and so we updated our advertising to include an explicit statement that Telstra is not an official sponsor of the Olympic Games, any Olympic Committees or teams.

“As the matter is now before the courts there is no further comment we can make at this time.”

The news came on the eve of Telstra's new branding campaign, which aims to help shift its image from telco to technology provider and showcase the brand's impact on people's lives.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+: google.com/+CmoAu

Join the CMO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Supporting Association

Blog Posts

Disruption Down Under – What’s Amazon’s real competitive advantage?

Savvy shoppers wait in anticipation, while Australian retailers are gearing up for the onslaught. Amazon’s arrival is imminent.

Change across the board: Why boards need to digitally evolve

Traditionally the non-executive board of a company acts in an advisory capacity - attending monthly board meetings to offer overarching advice and guidance typically focusing on:

Jodie Sangster

CEO, ADMA

The most desirable customers you’ve overlooked

“What will really move the needle?” This is a question that keeps leaders awake at night. And at the intersection of some of their top priorities – finding pockets of growth, redefining the customer experience, and making an emotional impact – lies a latent market: Their diverse customers.

Really inspiring !

Goldenboy Media

Jaywing sets sights on Australian growth with digital and data-driven agency model

Read more

Being aware of regulations or guidlines is just the start. As our CEO Emma Lo Russo stated exactly two weeks ago at an event we supported...

Alan Smith

​Are the Wild West days of influencer collaboration over?

Read more

Rebranding is always nice solution to get better organisation. Businessman may apply certain special services (for example, https://www.l...

David Hill

CMO interview: Spearheading the global rebranding of OFX

Read more

Thank you so much for sharing this article.Top Digital Marketing company in Bangalore

Way To DM

Predictions: 17 digital marketing trends for 2017

Read more

Thanks for the great article Jodie, agree many boards and senior execs are operating in outdated modes, just as we need some reverse soci...

sharyn

Change across the board: Why boards need to digitally evolve - Data-driven marketing - CMO Australia

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in