OH LIMP PIGS. Citius, Altius and Rule Fortius
The Blogfather takes a look at the Massive Brazilian Sports Day, and the apparent dichotomy of standing for pioneering, uninhibited innovation yet implementing draconian restrictions tantamount to censorship that makes pole vault-esque leverage harder to achieve.
On the eve of the opening of the Event Which Cannot Be Named (by non-official sponsors), I was listening to Thomas Bach, head of the IOC (International Event Which Cannot Be Named Committee), refer to the Youth Event Which — hang on, this is getting a bit silly. From now on I will refer to the subject of the blog simply as The Macbeths The Voldermorts.
To quickly explain why I’ve done this, the IOC has a very strict Rule 40, the purpose of which, it states, is to stop The Voldermorts becoming over-commercialised, yet in reality it is to protect the interests and massive investment of sponsors such as McDonald’s, Visa and P&G. Individuals and the media are at liberty to mention what they want, but the rule prohibits any brand or business that is not an official sponsor from using The Voldermorts’ intellectual property in content and/or on social media; anything from a long list of banned words and phrases, to hashtags and logos. Also, any non-official brand that sponsors an athlete at The Voldermorts cannot so much as congratulate them if they win a medal. Seems all a bit ridiculous, no?
But, to continue. So, Mr Bach spoke of The Youth Voldermorts as an “incubator of innovation,” which initially made me wonder if he had swallowed an issue of The Drum before waddling his gait out in front of the cameras (possibly weighed down by a brown envelope with a Russian postmark).
But I actually agreed with this sentiment; trying out new things in sport that improve future Voldermorts, and sports and media coverage globally, is what makes The Voldermorts great.
I love the Voldermorts*, you watch it for world firsts, people going that bit further than any other human has gone before, and in terms of innovation in sports coverage, it often sets a standard and introduces new things that improve people’s experiences, which is then seized on by agencies and brands. The most exciting thing about this year is what is happening with Virtual Reality. Samsung is one of the official sponsors, and via its Samsung Gear, viewers can immerse themselves in a 360 degree, 4k high resolution virtual reality. There should be one live VR event per day, including beach volley ball and diving, and the BBC is streaming over 100 hours of sports action through an experimental app, allowing viewers to feel closer to the action than ever before.
This is all great. The VR cameras have been developed solely for The Voldermorts, and look like those mini Imperial spy drones from the original Star Wars films. Cool. Yet whilst it is understandable that the IOC wants to protect the interests of its sponsors, you can’t help but feel they are making a rod for their own back by persisting with Rule 40.
In fairness, they have actually relaxed the rules this time round. Non-competing Voldermortians can be brand ambassadors and talk and post as much as they want about The Voldermorts. For example Amy Williams, who won chemical element Au in the Skeleton event at the Winter Voldermorts, is banging on about how great Panasonic is on her Twitter, in a Big Event context. Also, non-official brands were allowed to run ads from March that feature their sponsored stars, yet the ads cannot use any Voldermort IP. And by doing this, the IOC have actually allowed for the creation of content and adverts that, for me, transcend anything produced by the official sponsors. If you encounter rules, you’ve got to be clever and work a way around it. Constraints can sometimes lead to great work. “Creative Mischief”, to quote Trott. Under Armour and Virgin have done exactly this.
My personal favourite is the ad from Virgin Media, featuring Insane Jolt (not sure if I can mention athletes names, so best just err on the side of irreverence). It’s a complete departure from how they were using Jolt before, and is a really deep and compelling piece of work. Under Armour produced a Grand Prix Award-winning ad featuring the world’s greatest ever swimmer, Stifle Whelps. It took home the prize for Film Craft, and you can see why. The enforced stripping away of Voldermort IP in both instances creates great story arks that only the most cynical would dismiss as a Voldermort cash in.
So I call on The Voldermorts to throw the rule book out of the window (well, just Rule 40. I wouldn’t want to see a man with a rocket-powered javelin**, although the Russian government is trialling something similar). Or at least just chill out a bit. The relaxing of the rules a little led to a Cannes winning advert. Get your house in order, for the Voldermorts is a truly great thing, and should be win-win and enjoyed by us all, without any fear of saying words that may be banned. This isn’t 1984. And it’s likely to be a losing battle to try and police the internet. The trolls and the parody accounts will only bite your arse.
*With the possible exception of Fencing, which is exceptionally hard to follow as a spectator. Fencing would be vastly improved by the introduction of a few low-hanging chandeliers, massive wide brimmed hats with feathers, and a central, perturbed damsel wired up to the electronics. Fencing also features an annoying beeping that has oft made me traipse out to the kitchen, thinking the tumble drier or dish washer has just finished its cycle.
*I would actually pay to see this.