British Summer? We're not allowed one, thanks to the Olympics' brand police...
With the Olympics mere days away, Londoners are preparing themselves for a month of not being able to get anywhere, and the rest of us are preparing to not be able to watch anything else on TV. The athlete’s village is swanky and stylish, the cleaners’ village (reportedly) not so much. And the less said about G4S the better.
Still, what has been a raving success of the Games so far is the sponsorship deals. We’ve already seen Samsung select its ‘worthy’ worldwide CEOs as torch bearers, and seen McDonalds ban everyone else from selling chips, because they paid for the right to all chips, other than those preceded by “fish n”. Now, the Olympics brand police are out to stamp on small and local businesses who, heaven forbid, might be insolent enough to consider using the Olympics to try and sell more stuff.
That’s right, the green and purple clad army are out right now, cruising the streets of London armed with newly-minted legislative powers to enter premises to sniff out possible brand infringements, and bring court action demanding fines of up to £20,000. The Olympic committee may not care about protecting athletes and visitors, but they’re sure as dammit going to protect their sponsors.
And it could be easier to get into hot water with the brand police than you might think. Olympics organisers have warned businesses that during the London 2012 event, their advertising should not include a list of banned words, including "gold", "silver" and "bronze", as well as the more generic "summer", "sponsors" and "London".
Pubs cannot advertising live TV coverage on blackboards that refer to beer brands or brewers without an Olympics deal, and caterers and restaurateurs have had their creativity stifled, being warned they cannot invent dishes that could be construed as having an association with the event.
Sponsorship fuinding is reported to have put up £1.4bn against the total £11.4bn Olympic bill. Justifying their stance, Locog said "These rights are acquired by companies who invest millions of pounds to help support the staging of the Games. People who seek the same benefits for free – by engaging in ambush marketing or producing counterfeit goods – are effectively depriving the Games of revenue." Mmm. Just so long as all that lovely revenue gets returned to the people who paid for most of it* eh? Course it will.
So will the brand police attack every business in the area? Better not have a summer sale in August then, as that will clearly be an attempt to ambush the games, and have nothing to do with a common practice of having a sale in the summer season. What about summer puddings or summer clothes? What if your hippy parents named you Summer? Are you a walking violation? Or are the Games getting just a little too big for their boots? Boots sponsored by Adidas of course.
* most of the money has come from the taxpayer funded Olympic Development Agency, National Lottery funding and the Greater London local authority. But you already knew that didn’t you.