The Olympics cost a lot of money to stage, and London is likely to lose a lot of money hosting them. (It’s probably those gigantic gold medals.)Since tickets alone don’t pay for the cost, especially when you are giving away tons for free, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) has to sell advertising. Lots of advertising.
With sponsor prices as high as £100 million, LOCOG and the British government have enacted a variety of draconian laws making sure the some 50 brands sponsoring the games get maximum coverage—by preventing anyone else from advertising.
The UK trade group the Committee on Advertising Practice had a Q&A with LOCOG a few weeks ago revealing how broad an authority the London committee felt it had.
A representative from LOCOG said, 'Our legal rights are very wide and therefore any 'Olympic' themed campaign is likely to infringe them -- even if it doesn't refer explicitly to the Games.'
When asked about indirect advertising that doesn't explicitly mention the Olympics, LOCOG explained, 'the London Olympics Association Right is drafted widely so that any representation which creates an association between a business or brand with the Games (subject to certain defences) infringes the right.'
Dubbed the ''brand exclusion zone' in this post from kosmograd, LOCOG has created various spaces where advertising non-sponsor goods in nearly any form becomes a criminal offence.
The real problem is that the 'brand exclusion zone' is huge, given how geographically large the Olympic area is.
It's not just regular advertising that is banned. Photographs are heavily restricted, only authorised merchants are allowed to sell authorised goods and you can only accept one credit card, Visa.
A recent report in the Guardian indicates that even logos on bathroom fixtures from non-sponsors are being covered up with tape. These aren't rival brands trying to market competing products, these are toilets and sinks that were installed before the Olympics.
'Participants and other accredited persons are not permitted to promote any brand, product or service within a posting, blog or tweet or otherwise on any social media platforms or on any websites.' according to the IOC's Social Media, Blogging and Internet Guidelines for the 2012 Olympics.
You also can't do things like: upload a photo of the gymnastic competition to Instagram, have your picture used in a advertisement without approval from the IOC Executive Board, write in the third person in social media or use any of the Olympic symbols in any of your blogging/social media.
Violating the rules can lead to lawsuits and withdrawal. So yes, thanking Nike in a tweet is grounds for having your gold medal taken away.
Twitter has agreed to work with LOCOG to prevent non-sponsors from buying promoted advertising with hash tags regarding the Olympics, so 'drink @gatorade at #london2012' isn't going to be allowed.
In addition, it has begun removing what will inevitably be a rash of unauthorised accounts associated with the Olympics. This past week, Twitter already removed a protest group for using a modified Olympics logo.
Ever since 1996 when Nike made it clear that not being the official sponsor of the Olympics didn't matter, guerrilla and ambush marketing has been expected.
LOCOG released language attempting to prevent it, but it will probably have to kick out a few people, or at least make them watch in their underwear, as Dutch fans were forced to do at the World Cup when they wore orange pants supplied by Bavaria Beer.
There was nothing in the rules about gold shoes.
Ricoh is not a sponsor of the Olympics and as such every logo in the stadium it helped pay for will be covered up or removed including various road signs around the stadium, which will officially be known as City of Coventry Stadium during the Olympics.
The advertising police have the right to enter any premise they believe has potential unauthorised advertising and 'remove, destroy, conceal or erase any infringing article,' including by 'reasonable force.' Violators can be arrested and fined up to £20,000.
Here's how the LOCOG would like you to enjoy the Olympics.
- You book a flight on British Airways to Heathrow.
- You've got your Acer netbook and Panasonic headphones for the flight. Just make sure you are flying on Boeing's 777-300ER because it has General Electric engines.
- You have a new Samsung camera to take pictures (just don't post them on Twitter if you are an athlete), but you are going to need pick up some batteries once you land, Duracell is the way to go because Proctor & Gamble is an official sponsor.
- You won't need batteries for your watch, it's an Omega and you have to wind it up by hand.
- Your Plane is about to land -- so finish your Heineken and eat your Cadbury chocolate. They probably don't pair well together, but that's not the point.
- It's London, so it's probably raining, which means bad news for your new Adidas shoes.
- Get in the rental BMW, fill it up with some BP 'petrol,' and check in at the Holiday Inn.
- Once you're there, pick up the tickets that were overnighted to you from Ticketmaster -- thanks to UPS. Time to head over to the world's largest McDonald's and get a Big Mac and some Coke.
- Oh, and you paid for it all with your Visa, the only card accepted at the Olympic games.
- And you only used 19 of the 51 official sponsors.
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