Olympics-It's all in the wrist: Apple's tactic for a little Games glory
By Liana B. Baker
RIO DE JANEIRO Aug 9 (Reuters) - Apple Inc is threatening to crash Samsung's expensive Olympics party.
Samsung is mobile phone sponsor of the Rio Games and sells its handsets exclusively to hundreds of thousands of visitors flocking to Olympic venues - but Apple is tempting some of them outside with its own unofficial Games merchandise.
It is using an Apple Store about six miles (10 km) from the main Olympic park as the sole outlet for special-edition Apple watch bands. Some buyers, including top athletes, have been proudly advertising their new bands on social media.
The watch bands do not feature the iconic Olympic rings logo or the word "Olympics", which are for the exclusive use of sponsors like Samsung. Instead, they come in a choice of 14 national team colours, including the United States and Canada. A Brazil-themed nylon band was close to selling out this week.
"While they don't appear to be breaking any rules, they appear to be getting really close to the edge of ambush or guerilla marketing," said Jeff Benz, who arbitrates disputes for international dispute-resolution firm JAMS and is a former general counsel at the U.S. Olympic Committee.
Neither Apple nor Samsung responded to requests for comment on the bands, which are selling for 296 reais ($92.80) each - and only from the U.S. tech giant's store in Barra de Tijuca.
Another top Olympics sponsor, Swatch Group's Omega, which makes an Olympic watch and is Games timekeeper, showed no concern. Omega president Raynald Aeschlimann said that unlike his firm, Apple could not talk about its Olympics history.
Apple is also not permitted to display its limited-edition bands alongside the Olympics logo, or any other obvious Games symbol, but that has not stopped some Apple fans from doing so. Continuación...