With the Olympics underway, so many nice folks—tourists, ticket scalpers, chemically enhanced athletes—will grace London. But so will unpleasant people, like the so-called Olympic brand police. Hundreds of "trading standards officers" are now stalking the streets, looking for anyone who might be engaging in ambush marketing. It has been reported that this brand gestapo is made up of 300 officers operating under the Olympics Delivery Authority (ODA) with, thanks to the 2006 London Olympic Act, the power to do the following:
(a) enter land or premises on which they reasonably believe a contravention of regulations ... is occurring ...
(b) remove, destroy, conceal or erase any infringing article ...
(d) use, or authorise the use of, reasonable force for the purpose of taking action under this subsection
As of this moment, there are only 42 companies who are allowed to associate themselves with the London 2012© brand. Even specific words that are at risk of sounding anything like the Olympics are "protected," including "summer," "games," "gold," and "medal." According to lawyer and brand protection specialist Paul Jordan, this bars all companies advertising in London from even suggesting that they are at all associated with the 2012 Olympics.
So as long as you don't use any of the protected words, you're
golden fine. Sound impossible? The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) has published a nice illustrated rule book for those hoping to advertise during the games. Here is everything you need to know.
Will I get sued if I advertise my product "Gold Medal Summer 2012 Olympic Clothing" during the games?
Probably, unless you've been using that name since before 1995. (Gold Medal Flour is safe.)
I want to wear my "I'm a pepper" Dr. Pepper t-shirt to the Olympics. What will happen to me?
The brand police will likely hunt you down and force you to wear a Coca-Cola shirt, or something.
I am a self-identified ambush marketer. How can I associate my brand with the Olympics without getting sued?
I want to have an Olympics themed party at my place of business...
Good for you. Don't invite other people. Or call it a "sports gathering."
Will I be able to eat anything besides McDonald's in or around the Olympic arenas?
Can I use "athletic imagery" to sell my product?
How can I let people know that I am showing the Olympics in my pub/bar?
Try using ambiguous language. We suggest "Come on in and watch people from all over the world do sports!"
Can I show support for the Olympics by hanging a flag with the Olympic torch outside my store?
Not unless you wouldn't mind it being forcibly removed by the brand police.
Can I make mugs with the Olympic rings on them to give to my friends?
Can I use the colors red, green, black, yellow, and blue in the same advertisement without getting sued?
Should I even bother advertising at all?
Nah, but can you really compete with companies like P&G or Coca-Cola anyway?