The Canadian Olympic Committee believes that The North Face and it’s participating retailers are using something called “ambush” marketing to lead consumers into thinking that the brand is an official sponsor of the Canadian Olympic Team.
The current dispute is over a line of clothing North Face launched in November called the “International Collection.” Some of the clothing, labelled “village” wear, is decorated with the Canadian flag (or other team colours in other countries), and sometimes featured a patch with the symbol “RU 14” – a reference to the Winter Games in Sochi. Other merchandise showed a world map with a red star where Sochi is located. A T-shirt featured the date of the opening ceremonies: “07.02.2014.”
“The Canadian Olympic Committee will vigorously defend its brand, including all its sponsors and licensees, against ambush marketing attempts to mislead Canadians,” ” said Christopher Overholt, Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Olympic Committee. “I’m concerned that Canadians have purchased The North Face apparel assuming that by doing so they are supporting the Canadian Olympic Team, when that is just not the case. We expect The North Face to take immediate action to remedy the situation.”
In a terse statement released to the media, The North Face said it never intended to imply it was a sponsor of the Canadian Olympic Team.
“The North Face has been a longstanding supporter of the freeskiing movement, including our sponsorship of Canadian Freeskiing athletes Mike Riddle and Yuki Tsubota,” the statement said. “We are not an official sponsor of the Canadian Olympic Committee or Team Canada and never indicated we were. We have no further comment.”