Spotlight on: use of Olympic words and emblems in advertising

19 June 2024

As we count down to Paris 2024, advertisers, agencies, and media companies should ensure they are aware of the restrictions in place regarding words and emblems associated with the Olympic and Commonwealth Games.

The Olympic and Commonwealth Games words and emblems protected under the Major Events Management Act 2007 (MEMA) are detailed in the NZOC Commercial Guidelines. It is important to note the prohibition extends to any abbreviation, extension or derivation of a protected name and any name that has the same or a similar meaning to a protected name.

The Major Events Management Act 2007 (MEMA) restricts the use of certain Olympic and Commonwealth Games words, names, and emblems without the prior authorisation of the New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC). A breach of MEMA can lead to a fine of up to $150,000. Restrictions under the Fair Trading Act 1986 and Trade Marks Act 2002 also apply in certain circumstances.

Advertisers should ensure they understand the restrictions on the promotion of sponsorship agreements between brands and athletes competing in the Olympic Games. The NZOC Guidelines state that brands who have sponsored athletes or teams and not the NZOC must not reference the Olympic or Commonwealth Games in any of their activations, and nor should athletes reference their non-NZOC sponsors in relation to Games-specific activities or training.

The NZOC Commercial Guidelines provide more detail and examples of potential acceptable and unacceptable content.

The rules in the Advertising Standards Code complement these guidelines and any advertisement regarding the Olympic Games must also comply with the Advertising Standards Code and any relevant sector Codes. Complaints solely relating to breaches of the NZOC guidelines are outside of the ASA’s jurisdiction and complainants will be referred to the NZOC if they are concerned about unauthorised use of restricted names, words and emblems.

More information on the NZOC is available on their website.

For questions relating to the Advertising Standards Code, contact