Strict rules over the London 2012 Olympics may see cyclists riding in both the games and Le Tour unable to appear in adverts during periods this summer.
The rules were set up to protect brands that have stumped up thousands of pounds to be associated with the Olympics and prevent piggy-back 'ambush' advertising by other companies, but London 2012's proximity to the Tour de France may be about to make matters particularly complicated for cycle advertisers.
The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games' (LOCOG) handbook explicitly states that athletes images are not allowed to be used in any form of advertising during the period of the Olympic Games.
The London 2012 Olympic Games start on July 27th, a mere five days after the climax of the Tour de France, which runs from June 30th to July 22nd.
So bike companies associated with the tour planning to feature TfF riders in their advertising should take particular note whether the featured rider is also going to be in the Olympics – such as Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish or Ryder Hesjedal.
But companies will at least have a five-day period between Le Tour and London 2012 to run their ads to do so. Or will they?
According to 'Rule 40', the period where advertisers have to be careful about the athletes they feature actually extends to 'during and shortly before' the Olympic Games – a period defined by LOCOG as July 18th to August 15th – squarely crossing over with Le Tour and clashing with stages 16, 17, 18, 19 and the final stage 20.
During this extended period, however, the limitation on Olympic athletes appears less strict than the blanket ban during the Games. Any mention or allusion to the games would be prohibited during the extended period.
Without shattering any illusions, we're not legal experts here at BikeBiz, so if you're planning on using Le Tour and Olympic riders in your ads during the extended Olympics period (July 18th to August 15th), then be careful out there.
UPDATE: Since publishing this story one cycle trade company has told BikeBiz that it has had to pull a range of adverts that it had planned featuring a potential Olympic selection athlete, scrapping a wide range of artwork in the process. The company told us: "We feel unable to promote any potential Tour de France success stories that are key in adding value to the related brands at a key time of the year."
UPDATE 2: BikeBiz has now been contacted by IPC Media, publisher of Cycling Weekly (see the comment below). Publishing director Keith Foster told us: "We have been consulting with London 2012 legal representatives for many months regarding this and other related issues – and have received written confirmation that London 2012 would not object to any such congratulatory ads appearing in Cycling Weekly issue dated Thursday 26th July – which carries the Tour De France result." For more on that head to Foster's full comment below.
The rules go further than standard adverts – the cyclists themselves, as well as coaches, trainers and officials, will have to be wary of the rules when using social media. No brand, product or service promotion on any social media site or website will be allowed under the rulings.