BMW’s mini Minis at the Olympics Do Not Break the Ad-Free Rule image

This year’s London Olympics were supposed to be ad-free, but BMW’s iconic Mini car stays triumphantly in the middle of the main stadium.

Not to mention the car maker’s remote-controlled miniatures of the car moving track and field equipment all over the Olympic Stadium. Images with the little Minis are sent to networks globally, offering BMW quite a wide exposure of its brand. The International Olympic Committee’s television and marketing director, Timo Lumme, said that the ad-free rules were not being broken since the vehicles don’t have any branding, only the phrase “it’s a MINI adventure”.

“There are a number of IAAF validated vehicles that could have been used,” Lumme said. “So the one that they chose, quite naturally, because BMW is the sponsor, was the BMW one.”

BMW’s smart advertising strategy shows that even when the IOC heavily restricts exposure, companies still find solutions to secure a return on their investment. Steve Martin, chief executive of marketing agency M&C Saatchi Sport and Entertainment, admitted that the way BMW used its Mini is the “surprise sponsorship of the Olympic Games.”

“People in the industry will look and see it’s the smartest thing around the Olympic Games for a long time,” Martin said. “The Olympic Stadium is almost a brandless sanctuary within the Olympic Park.”