OLYMPICS SNIFFING OUT AMBUSHERS;ATLANTA GAMES ORGANIZERS DISPATCH CMR TO SEARCH FOR OFFENDING ADS

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The Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games is putting some bite behind its bark, hiring Competitive Media Reporting to track advertising so it can identify marketers who ambush Summer Olympics sponsors.

Through its Radio TV Reports service, CMR is monitoring network and local TV; radio newscasts and advertising in 125 markets across the U.S.; and 100 major magazines and newspapers through the end of the Games in August.

REPORTS ALREADY COMING IN

Executives at the sponsor protection division of ACOG's business unit, Atlanta Centennial Olympic Properties, already are receiving reports on new Olympic-related advertising and marketing communications that break the previous day.

If it appears a non-sponsor may be using official marks or suggesting an official tie to the Games, ACOP executives can access a Radio TV Reports database to get the spot's script.

If further investigation is required, CMR will overnight tapes to Atlanta, courtesy of Olympic sponsor United Parcel Service.

"The important distinction here is that RTV provides them the means to detect ambush marketing; it's up to [ACOP] to act on it," said Illiana Rivera, director of ad sales for CMR's Radio TV Reports service.

In exchange for its work, CMR receives the sponsorship designation of official supplier of the 1996 Centennial Olympics-and a commitment from ACOP to publicize the monitoring service.

For the Olympics, cracking down on ambush marketing is essential to protect sponsors, whose money helps pay to stage the Games. Although it's debatable how illegal ambush marketing is, ACOP and the International Olympic Committee promise to both embarrass and legally challenge those marketers who try to glom off the Games without paying for that right.

"We want to get the message out so as to prevent ambushing before it happens; call it preventive medicine," an ACOG spokesman said.

"We can all watch NBC [which will broadcast the Games] and see who their national sponsors are, but now we can peer into Seattle or Sacramento and keep tabs on who's snatching up local avails and see what kind of creative they're using," said Bill Ferguson, ACOP's director of sponsor protection.

TRACKING NEWSCASTS

Mr. Ferguson noted the service will allow ACOP to track nightly newscasts for Olympic mentions. ACOP fears non-sponsors may use video news releases in their ambush marketing efforts.

What ACOP won't be using the service for is to enforce Rule 45 of the Olympic charter. That regulation forbids Olympic athletes from appearing in ads for any marketer during the Games-even if the advertiser is an Olympic sponsor.

The main players in the athletic footwear industry-Fila USA, Nike and Reebok International-are preparing ads that may violate this rule, as are some Olympic sponsors.

Even though ACOP is a joint venture of ACOG and the U.S. Olympic Committee, Mr. Ferguson said enforcing Rule 45 falls under the USOC's jurisdiction.

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