Federal court dismisses AOC case against Telstra advertising

Australian Olympic Commission ordered to pay costs for legal action against the telco accusing it of misleading advertising

The Federal Court has dismissed the Australian Olympic Committee’s (AOC) action against Telstra for misleading advertising relating to the 2016 Rio Games.

The AOC took legal action against Telstra following a campaign launched earlier in July by the telco promoting its support of the Channel Seven Olympics App. The campaign used a modern version of the Peter Allen classic tune, ‘I Go To Rio’, and initially featured the line official technology partners’ for the Seven Olympic Games broadcast.

This line was amended by Telstra within days of the campaign’s launch after the AOC expressed concerns about the way Telstra was presenting its association with the 2016 games after cutting ties as an official sponsor of the games last year.

In a judgement passed down on 29 July, presiding Judge, Justice Wigney, dismissed the AOC’s application and ordered the AOC pay Telstra’s court costs.

The AOC had contended Telstra’s advertisements, which stretched across TVCs, online and other forms of advertising, contravened either or both section 18 or 29(g) and (h) of the Australian Consumer Law, relating to misleading and deceptive conduct.

While agreeing Telstra had potentially “pushed the envelope as far as it could” with regards to its associating with Olympic fervour and spirit, the judge did not agree the telco's advertising efforts had contravened either of those consumer laws, or the related section 36 of the OIP (Olympics Insignia Protection) Act.

“The central question in resolving this dispute is this: Do the Telstra promotions and advertisements suggest to a reasonable person that Telstra is a sponsor of, or provided sponsor-like support to, bodes and teams association with the Rio Olympic Games?” Justice Wigney asked. “Or do they simply suggest that Telstra sponsors Seven’s broadcast of the Rio Olympic Games and promote the ability of Telstra customers to access the premium version of Seven’s Olympics on 7 app?”

The judge concluded the Rio TVC and marketing material would not suggest to a reasonable person that Telstra was a sponsor of, or provided sponsorship-like support, to any Olympic body. While agreeing the original Rio TVC could be perceived as “borderline”, subsequent revisions were adequate in meeting any guidelines, he stated.

“The marketing brief revealed that Telstra wanted to be associated in some way with the Olympics: It wanted to create an overarching ‘brand idea’ and ‘platform that brings to life Telstra’s brand positioning of ‘empowering people to thrive in the connected world’ through the context of sports and the Olympic Games,” Justice Wigney stated.

“Equally, however, the material revealed that Telstra well understood that, because it was not a sponsor, there were limits to what it could say or imply.

“On balance, the marketing material does not show that Telstra deliberately set about implying something which it knew it could not lawfully imply. It is fairly clear, however, that Telstra wished to push the envelope as far as it could.”

Judge Wigney’s overall conclusion was in favour of Telstra.

“None of the advertisements, videos, catalogues, emails of online materials, or other marketing or promotional materials that employ the Olympic expressions, would suggest to a reasonable person, that Telstra is or was a sponsor of, or is or was the provider of, sponsorship-like support to any relevant Olympic claim,” he stated.


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 newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

3 skills you need to drive better collaboration

A study published in The Harvard Business Review found the time spent in collaborative activities at work has increased by over 50 per cent in the past two decades. Larger projects; complicated problems; tighter timeframes: These require bigger teams with specialised skillsets and diverse backgrounds, often dispersed globally.

Jen Jackson

CEO, Everyday Massive

Better the bank you know?

In 2018, only 21 per cent of customers believed that banks in general had their customers best interests at heart and behave ethically. Only 26 per cent believed that banks will keep their promises; views cemented further following the Hayne Financial Services Royal Commission.

Carolyn Pitt

Head of account management, Hulsbosch

What 15 years of emotional intelligence told us about youth media audiences

Taking people on an emotional journey through content is the most critical part of being a publisher. Which is why emotion lies at the heart of VICE Media.

Stephanie Winkler

Head of insights, VICE Asia-Pacific

This journey would identify all your future life aspects!

Maryann Humphrey

Open Colleges: one-to-one journeys is the goal

Read more

It's a pretty good idea. I think this integration is useful. Don't you agree?

Misty Stoll

Officeworks hops on voice interface bandwagon with Google Assistant integration

Read more

ok. so no RCS support? by the way, RCS is a lot bigger than 5G in terms of marketing and monetisation so y'all should be covering it.

DragoCubed

Optus goes for education with 5G network campaign

Read more

Many companies and individual merchants have shifted their major part of marketing to web marketing services Portland as it weighs fewer ...

Radiata Solutions

6 Ways to ramp up Social Media to Your Web Design

Read more

This is a unique experience! Will be interesting to talk to their managers.

Joyce Harris

​How Krispy Kreme revitalised its brand in a saturated market

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in