Almost 300 “enforcement officers” are soon to hit the streets of the UK, working to ensure firms are not staging “ambush marketing” or illegally associating themselves with the Olympic Games, the Independent reports.The officers will wear purple caps and tops and have the right to enter shops and offices near Olympic sites and give fines of up to £20,000 ($31,000) for the mis-use of words such as “gold”, “silver” and “bronze”, “summer”, “sponsors” and “London”. Only 42 companies will be allowed to associate themselves with the Olympics.
Understandably, these “brand police” are controversial, and the exact extent of their powers hasn’t been tested yet – the front cover of a magazine that bears the Olympic rings may warrant a fine, for example. They may even be inside the Olympic grounds telling people what to wear, according to a Vanity Fair article earlier this year — with part of the Olympic contract giving organisers the right to ensure spectators do not “wear clothes or accessories with commercial messages other than the manufacturers’ brand name.”
Perhaps the craziest part of all of this is that this entire process has been enshrined in law (the “London Olympic Act 2006”) by the British parliament, who were apparently keen to protect the £1.4 billion ($2.1 billion) of sponsorship money helping to fund the Olympic budget.
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