"Virtual advertising" ruled out of Olympics

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SYDNEY -- Sydney 200O Olympics organizers have built new clauses into contracts with television broadcasters of the Games, forbidding the use of "virtual advertising" which superimposes advertising on imaginary billboards and playing surfaces at sporting events.

Alarmed that Kerry Stokes' Seven Network has signed an exclusive licensing agreement with ORAD, the Israeli company that developed the digital technique, Gary Fenton, head of the Sydney Games broadcasting organization, says contracts that now stipulate broadcasters cannot use the technology to alter Olympic images.

Virtual billboards technology means, for example, that different ads can be placed behind the same finishing line and sold to individual viewing areas. Ads can be stripped in behind action scenes, or cigarette and alcohol ads can be broadcast to countries where such ads are legal.

Seven Network Director of Technology Frank Chiodi says a general marketing campaign to Australian advertisers has begun and testing is "well under way". The network has exclusive licensing agreements for New Zealand and South Africa as well as Australia.

Copyright June 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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