Firms eye ways around Olympics logo no-go
A crackdown by heavy-handed ‘logo police’ on brands linked to the Olympics without official sponsorship has led to some canny companies coming up with innovative ways of bending the rules.
Organisers of the London Games have enforced strict laws to protect official trademarks and stop ambush marketing.
They’ve even gone as far as ordering shops to remove sausages, flowers and bagels shaped as the Olympic rings - moves branded “lunacy”.
Within the Olympic Park, sushi boxes come without soy sauce or wasabi - as the vendors are unable to find sachets that do not feature brand logos.
That’s led to some food stalls selling chocolate, chewing gum and savoury snacks from under the counter, as they cannot display items not produced by key sponsors.
Outside the park, companies are coming up with novel ways to piggyback on the Games without running foul of a 2006 British law that tightened protection for Olympic sponsors and has the clout to issue fines of a hefty $30,000.
A glasses company has teased organisers over poor eyesight after a flag blunder, an off-licence offered discounts to people with items from non-Olympic sponsors - and a betting agency threatened legal action after being told to remove ads.
Rupert Pratt, managing director at sponsorship agency Generate, said the stunts could set a precedent for what brands can and cannot do to get around the Olympic rules.
“The Olympic movement does a fantastic job of scaremongering to protect its sponsors but the reality is that if you look at the ambushing rules there is a lot that can be done,” said Pratt.
“So far LOCOG (the London Olympic organiser) is doing the smart thing by not getting dragged into a public battle with companies taunting it - but this is testing the legislation.”
A group of 11 international companies sponsor the event - paying nearly $1 billion for the chance to have their brand associated with the Games and the Olympic rings over four years.
A further $1.1 billion has been paid by 42 domestic sponsors.
Under rules to protect sponsors, the logos of competitors are banned from Games venues, advertising is outlawed in ‘event zones’ around the arenas and non-Olympic businesses cannot use images like the Olympic rings or terms like ‘London 2012’.
A crack team of 250 lawyers and enforcement officers - the so-called ‘Olympics brand police’ - has been rigorously enforcing the laws.
Perhaps the funniest example of a firm trying to bend the ad rules of the Olympic Games to their own advantage is opticians Specsavers.
Known across Britain for their advertising slogan ‘Should have gone to Specsavers’ - the quick-witted and eagle-eyed company used a diplomatic blunder by Olympic staff mixing up the North and South Korean flags at a football game to rush out a sharp new ad campaign for UK shops.
Written partly in Korean and bedecked with the two flags of both South and North Korea the ad, of course, came complete with the strapline: “Should have gone to Specsavers.”