Olympics Advertising Explained

With the imminent arrival of the 2012 Olympic Games in London, there remain a few grey areas for UK businesses wishing to capitalise on the hype surrounding such a momentous event.

To minimise ambush marketing campaigns and other such exploitation of the Olympics and Paralympics, there have been new rules put into place which restrict certain usages of the brand, as well as advertising of any kind in set event zones.

According to regulations bought into effect on the 2nd December, the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games have prohibited street advertising and trade in set event zones during the games unless they have full authorisation from the London Organising Committee. This effectively stops businesses and organisations that have not paid sponsorship from advertising at venues or associating products/services with the Olympic Games

Businesses and organisations are not allowed to associate their brand or products with the Games without permission – which also means that unauthorised use of the London 2012 and Olympics logos is prohibited.

A business or person acting on behalf of a business is not allowed to endorse or promote a product or service in any of the designated zones during the set times without the proper authorisation – although there are exceptions.

If advertising falls into non-promotional categories such as publicising beliefs or marking a commemoration then exceptions are made. However, according to reports, ministers are planning legal action to restrict public protests (such as Occupy) during the Olympics amid fears that Britain could be disrupted by lengthy and high-profile demonstrations.

Additional exceptions allow brands to be displayed on the body, on personal property or on branded clothing, applicable unless the individual “knows or has reasonable cause to believe that he or she is participating in an ambush marketing campaign”.

In short, businesses are not to use the Olympic or Paralympic Games as a marketing tool unless they are an official sponsor. Refrain from using any variation of the London 2012 or Olympics logos as well as any language that could be seen as Olympics-related, i.e. the words Games, Two Thousand and Twelve, 2012 or Twenty-Twelve used in conjunction with London, medals, sponsors, summer, gold, silver or bronze.

Ambush marketing – don’t do it!
Advertisement that is undertaken without appropriate payment to the Olympics is defined as an ‘ambush marketing campaign’, and is prohibited under new laws. This practice refers to an act intended specifically to advertise goods/services in an event zone during the relevant event period.

Official partners of the Olympics and Paralympics will often pay millions of pounds for exclusive rights to associate their brand with the Games in their particular area. With this considered, many large scale sporting events attract ambush marketing which often results in competitor’s brands gaining more attention and publicity than the event’s official sponsors.

Under the new London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act the Government is legally obliged to create regulations and restrictions on advertising and street trading in the vicinity of the events. These regulations must specify the period of time that the restrictions come into effect, with separate advertising and trade regulations soon to be published for Scotland and Wales.