After the Olympics : Advice on Media and Advertising Contracts

by Farleys Solicitors on September 21, 2012

The success of the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics has caused much debate about the motivations of our sporting stars. Since Team GB’s Olympic and Paralympic athletes have been thrust into the limelight; with their every move, both inside and outside the Olympic stadium, being keenly observed by the British public, contrasts between them and our professional footballers have started to emerge. Athletes, who train and compete with limited support and resources and yet demonstrate incredible dedication and often sacrifice in order to achieve a sporting victory; have become shining lights to exemplify all that is good in sport – focus, determination, motivation and commitment. In comparison, the motivations of our multi-millionaire footballers; who many perceive treat the sport very differently and perhaps are more heavily influenced by remuneration rather than achievement, have been called into question.

Along with becoming beacons of inspiration for the next generation of sports stars, the Team GB athletes have become household names overnight. Couple this with the positive image and values the athletes portray, and you have a very powerful and attractive proposition for brands wanting raise their profile. As a result, we can expect to see a flurry of new adverts featuring Team GB stars as big brands aim to capitalise on a slice of post-Olympic action.

Whilst the world of media attention and the proposition of numerous advertising and sponsorship deals will undoubtedly be new and exciting territory, it is important to remember that such deals are commercial contracts and as such, are legally binding, with potentially serious consequences in the event of a breach of contract (whether that breach is made consciously or not).  So what should our athletes, and indeed anybody entering into a media deal look out for?

One of the most prevalent issues arising from such contracts is that of exclusivity. Many contracts will stipulate that the individual (or group) cannot enter into another contract with a rival brand for a period of time. This period of time can span into years, effectively restricting any future deals being made.

Another issue to watch out for is the extent of expectation placed upon either party. For example, signing up to feature in a television programme or reality show can also involve participation in promotional activity and interviews. Where the level of this participation is not clearly defined, one party or other can be left feeling ‘short-changed’ from the deal.

Certain restrictions are often built into agreements which can sometimes go amiss. For example, there have been cases where individuals who have a sponsorship agreement with Brand A finding themselves in trouble after being photographed wearing or consuming Brand B.

Ultimately, the fine print of a contract needs to be scrutinised and understood by all parties prior to it being signed.  Seeking the advice of a lawyer who regularly deals with media contracts can not only provide peace of mind, but can also prevent the backlash from litigation that may arise where there is not a full and complete understanding.

By Daniel Draper, Sports Lawyer at Farleys Solicitors LLP

About the Author

Farleys Solicitors is a leading full practice firm of solicitors in Manchester and Lancashire. Their sports law department deal with a wide range of legal matters for both individuals in sport and sports organisations.

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