The Canadian Olympic Committee have threatened legal action against winter wear manufacturer, The North Face.

The dispute is over a range of clothing that The North Face have produced in advance of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, in their ‘International Collection’.

Ambush marketing?

As The North Face are not an official sponsor of the Games, the collection has been interpreted as ‘ambush marketing’ – an attempt to appear  to be ‘official’ merchandise.

This is because different items include phrases such as ‘RU 14’ [kids, that stands for Russia 14, not something in text speak] and the date the Games start.

The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC?) were particularly aggreived by a red maple leaf on white background, pretty much the Canadian flag.

north face canada

Cheeky competition copy

The North Face also ran a competition alongside the new launch, offering the chance to win a holiday

‘to Sochi…to attend a major international sports competition, February 19, 2014 – February 23, 2014’

I suppose you could consider this misleading advertising, as COC claim, but to us it looks like great copy writing.

Their launch page does clearly state:

The North Face is not a sponsor of or apparel supplier for the Olympic Games, the United States Olympic Committee, or Team USA.

COC sent a cease and desist letter to the company on Jan 10, and since then The North Face have made a number of changes to the collection.

However, top marks to their marketing team and we’re delighted to give them some additional publicity – here’s to (what might be) great ambush marketing.


By Iain Martin