Angry Knitters Unite

28 Jun

There has been a lot of talk the past few days about the use of trademarked Olympic property; namely the use of “Ravelympics” for a knitting event put on by Ravelry (a community of over 2,000,000 knitters). Cease and desist letters were served, harsh tones were used, and (presumably) a well organized group of angry women (and probably some men) with sticks took offense.

cary grant

Unbeknownst to the US Olympic Committee, knitters have a VERY strong online community. You can say they’re “close knit”! (Insert bad joke trumpet noise here – womp wahhhh). They rallied around the “unacceptable” letter and bombarded the US Olympic Facebook page. Smartly, however, the USOC listened to what was being said, apologized, and changed their response. In an article on Ragan’s PR Daily Europe website, USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky addressed some interesting questions regarding the communication strategy, breakdown, and revival of the occurrence. Sandusky said,

“Nobody here is perfect and if there’s something that needs to be corrected, correct it and don’t be embarrassed about doing the right thing.”

This is an important takeaway for public relations practitioners who wish to have success when dealing with online communities. Accepting mistakes and apologizing for them gets you much farther than “sticking to your guns”. Since this issue arose, the group has agreed to strike the name “Revelympics” from their vernacular and change the name of their event.

I wonder then, if the US Olympic Committee cares so much about the use of their logo by a group of people competing in events with sticks and string, how do they feel about athletes getting trademarked tattoos on their bodies? Are there rules and restrictions? If Joe-Schmoe got the Olympic rings tattooed on his shoulder, would there be an uproar? Maybe even a lawsuit?

For a more sardonic look at this story, check out this article from gawker.com.

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One Response to “Angry Knitters Unite”

  1. T.T. June 29, 2012 at 6:38 pm #

    I’m with ya! Great blog! Just a little feedback on the legalities of my “unprofessional” take on the situation. I’m pretty sure the tattoos aren’t an issue of concern for one major reason. The tattoos are promoting the olympics with no direct “return on investment”, whereas the knitting community, as crazy as it sounds, was probably using the Olympic Rings to make some dough, boost their own agenda, or auction off for a funeral home.

    Then again, I’m still with you. The knitters should file a PR malpractice suit. haha

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