London’s Olympic Brand Army on the War Path for Ambush Marketing

July 19, 2012 Published by

In May, we warned about the dangers of associating a brand with London 2012 without consent:

It seems we foreshadowed the current climate, with the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Limited (LOCOG) now cracking down on ambush marketing. As LOCOG has recently announced, they take incidents of ambush marketing seriously, emphasising the exclusive rights of official sponsors and the significant investment of these companies in order to obtain these rights.

Under the (Advertising and Trading) (England) Regulations 2011, one of the aims of which is specifically to prevent ambush marketing, 25 ‘Event Zones’ around London have been established within several hundred metres of competition venues. Within these areas, engaging in unauthorised advertising or trading activity in open public places during specified periods around the Games is prohibited and only businesses which have successfully applied to trade or advertise are permitted to do so. ‘Advertising’ is deliberately defined extremely broadly by the Regulations to cover both commercial and non-commercial advertising, and includes:

any word, letter, image, mark, sound, light, model, sign, placard, board, notice, screen, awning, blind, flag, device, costume or representation, whether illuminated or not, in the nature of, and employed wholly or partly for the purpose of, promotion, advertisement, announcement or direction’

The Olympic Delivery Authority, established by the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006, has engaged enforcement officers with expertise in trading and advertising to enforce these Regulations and protect their advertising sponsors. These officers, unofficially dubbed the ‘brand army’ and decked out in purple, are able to enforce severe penalties against anyone contravening the Regulations, including fines of up to £20,000.

Concerted attempts to prevent ambush marketing around the Olympics have also manifested closer to home. A TVC for Australian Mining featuring Olympic cyclist Anna Meares has been pulled this month after the Australian Olympic Committee claimed it was in breach of advertising guidelines aimed at protecting official sponsors. The TVC showed Meares in cycling gear sporting sponsor BHP Billiton’s logo (a  rival to official Australian team sponsor Rio Tinto) while she spoke about her Olympic hopes in London. Protection against ambush marketing has reached new heights these Games, so advertisers be careful to steer clear of the brand army’s war path!

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