No Pepsi allowed at the Olympics

Someone in Greece has been out in the sun too long, because this is simply too dumb. Spectators at the upcoming Olympics in Athens run the risk of being barred from the games if they bring products with the wrong brand into the arena. The “clean venue policy” has been dreamed up by the Greeks and the IOC to protect sponsors from ambush marketing.

“Sweltering sports fans who seek refuge from the soaring temperatures with a soft drink other than one made by Coca-Cola will be told to leave the banned refreshment at the gates or be shut out.”

“Fans will be allowed into the Olympic complex if they are drinking Avra, a Greek mineral water owned by Coca-Cola, which paid $60 million US for the privilege of being one of the main sponsors. Officials are under orders not to let in rival brands’ bottles unless the labels are removed.”

How are consumers/audience supposed to react to this? They are going to be out in the sun, 40º, all day to watch the event of their life time and think it would be somewhat intelligent to bring a can of Pepsi or whatever. But when entering the stadium they are told to throw it away, because Coke says so. I’m sorry, but my soft drink preferences would start to lean slightly away from the word’s #1 brand. This is just not good PR.

Among all the silly ideas, I think this one is my “favourite”:

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 television audiences. Those arousing suspicion will be required to wear their T-shirts inside out.

I absolutely sympathize with the IOC wanting to protect sponsors who pay proposterous amounts for the exclusive rights to show their brands, and ambush marketing is a method which raises ethical questions.

“Ambush marketing is not clever marketing — it is cheating. And who wants to be a cheat?”

Michael Payne, IOC Marketing Director

Sponsors make an event like the Olympics possible. Piggybacking of non-sponsoring companies can be, but doesn’t have to be, unethical. But to let sponsors decide what the spectators can eat, drink and wear is a few steps too far.


The Greeks have used “clean venue policites” previously, for example at the Athens 2003 Regatta (pdf).

“Today the Olympic Games is the only major event in the world to hold such a policy” (

IOC rule 61 and the enforcement of “clean venue policy” (pdf)

Link via Adrants.