Posted by bussroot | Posted in Creative | Posted on 17-10-2011
Way back in April 2010, when the Olympics still seemed to be a distant date in the future, I posted a blog about the financial penalities for the use of Ambush Marketing. Recent updates have brought into focus just how stringent the control for unauthorised advertising will be.
Hands up anyone who is working on a marketing strategy to capitalise on the 2012 Olympic Games? Ah ha! Are you one of the 86% of companies who aren’t aware of the Government bill prohibiting adverts linked by association of words to the Games? The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has passed legislation supposedly with the intention of safeguarding the official sponsors’ financial investment and protecting the Olympic brand. So no use will be allowed of the words medal, gold, games, London, summer, silver or bronze in conjunction with 2012, two thousand and twelve or twenty twelve. The Olympic motto is also protected with the restriction on the use of Citius, Altius, Fortius/Faster, Higher, Stronger. Have you reached for the Tippex yet?
They say that there will still be opportunities for UK business to benefit, but apparently this has to be ‘behind closed doors’! Even that is restricted, as any company contracted to work on an Olympic project will have to sign a confidentiality agreement and internal communication with staff will be limited. Perhaps we should prepare to be creative with code words, Operation O etc. Breaches to the bill are threatened with a fine of £20,000 with unlimited fines for more serious cases, presumably with the intention of dissuading companies who stand to profit more from the advertising campaign than they would lose in a fine. With official partners British Airways and BP having committed 700 million pounds to secure official partnerships, a £20,000 fine for using a ‘billboard body’ may appear to be a bargain. It’s estimated that 4 billion viewers will tune into the broadcasted events, which equates to two thirds of the world’s entire population. However, before you prepare to strip off for the good of your brand and run naked with your company website written across your chest, (or entice someone to do it for you), the rules are currently with the unelected Upper House of Lords, with proposals to impose a jail sentence for lawbreakers. Maybe not such a good idea?
Ambush, or gorilla marketing has been used effectively during major sporting events in the past. In the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, Kodak sponsored the TV coverage on the games and the US Track event team, while Fuji was the official sponsor. Fuji had their revenge when they ambushed Kodak’s sponsorship of the 1988 Games in Seoul. It may not be strictly ethical to jump onto the bandwagon but is it fair that goliath-sized multi-national brands have the advantage over small businesses with limited budgets? Don’t work on a strategy to turn up at the Games with your staff wearing Company logo’d t-shirts, hoping to be caught on camera, that’s not permitted either. Leave the branded hats and umbrellas behind, or you risk having them confiscated.
We’re told that the intention of the Bill is to prevent businesses unfairly cashing in on the Olympics by implying they have some form of association or link with the Games. This follows the example in Sydney when they hosted the 2000 Olympics. The Government says they want to adopt a proportionate common sense approach. No problem there then!
It might be wise to be wary if you plan to feature your key staff as 2012 ‘Gold medal’ winners. You may just get a knock on the door from the Sponsor police. They need to recoup at least some of the £400,000 spent on the design of the Olympic logo!