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Branding and the London 2012 Olympics

The Institute of Directors has just reminded members that businesses are at risk of being fined for using the Olympic brand. The fines can be up to £20,000. The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) have always been very robust in protecting their brand under tight restrictions imposed to protect official sponsors' investments in the Games

Be very careful if using specified signs or representations relating to the forthcoming Olympic Games in your marketing or for other business.

In the last few months, a Stoke florist had to take down her window display of five tissue rings and a torch due to unauthorised use of the Olympic logo. In East London a long – established kebab shop has been forced to change its name from “Olympic” to “Lympic” – it seems that no one is exempt, even when celebrating the Games in local communities.

What are the protected Games' Marks?

All of the official names, phrases, trade marks, logos and designs related to the 2012 Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Movements (collectively referred to as the 'Games' Marks') are protected by law in a variety of ways.

The following are some of the current items that make up the Games' Marks:

  • The Olympic Symbol
  • The Paralympic Symbol
  • The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Emblems
  • The London 2012 mascots
  • The word 'London 2012'
  • The words 'Olympic', 'Olympiad', 'Olympian' (and their plurals and words very similar to them – e.g. 'Olympix'
  • The words 'Paralympic', 'Paralympiad', 'Paralympian' and their plurals and words  very similar to them – e.g. 'Paralympix'
  • The Olympic Motto: 'Citius Altius Fortius' / 'Faster Higher Stronger'
  • The Paralympic Motto: 'Spirit in Motion'
  • The Team GB logo
  • The ParalympicsGB logo
  • The British Olympic Association logo
  • The British Paralympic Association logo
  • (and various derivatives)
  • The London 2012 sports pictograms

If in doubt, take a look at

Ambush Marketing

Where LOCOG are made aware of ambush marketing of the Games and/or other unauthorised uses of the Games' Marks, they will seek to end any infringement LOCOG will assess the infringement and consider the nature, scale and commercial and reputational impact of the infringement. 

Strict guidelines are in place to protect the London 2012 brand to “maintain both the emotional and commercial value of the brand” and to “prevent its unauthorised exploitation”(3). These rules, alongside special laws such as the Olympic Symbol etc. (Protection) Act 1995 (OSPA), which protects the Olympic and Paralympic symbols, mottos and various words, and the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006 (the ‘2006 Act’) which prevents the creation of an unauthorised association between people, goods or services and London 2012, have been passed to ensure that both the event and the official sponsors’ rights are fully protected.

Twitter and LOCOG have agreed to work together to combat ambush marketing during this summer’s Olympic Games in London. Organisers are concerned that social media could be used by non-sponsors to take advantage of Olympic marketing opportunities, reports Marketing.The publication cited a “source close to the social platform”, who said Twitter is “working with LOCOG to ensure that the same rules that apply everywhere else will apply to Twitter”.

Twitter will block non-sponsors from purchasing promoted Twitter ads with Olympic hashtags, such as #London2012, the magazine understands.

The London 2012 tickets have an exhaustive list of prohibited items to take into the stadium – these include containers bigger than 100ml, Frisbees, flags of non-competing countries, camera tripods, large quantities of coins and mobile phones.

Picnics will also be restricted with all bags subject to an X-ray and any contraband goods confiscated.

Read more:

Organisers will be on the look out for ambush marketing - as seen at the football World Cup, when Bavaria Beer filled a section of seats with a bevy of Dutch girls wearing orange.

According to the documentation, 'objects bearing trademarks or other kinds of promotional signs or messages (such as hats, T-shirts, bags etc) which [they] believe are for promotional purposes.'

Perhaps in an attempt to not have a repeat of the vuvuzela sound which blighted the South African football tournament with horns, whistles and drums.

The Chartered Institute of Marketing has published a useful PDF.

LOCOG “acknowledge that there may be cases where the unauthorised use of our brand is the result of pure enthusiasm for the Games without consideration of commercial benefit or understanding of our legal rights.  In such cases, we will factor this into our approach. Wherever possible, we try to resolve matters with a personal approach, speaking to the business in question directly, explaining why there is a problem and asking that it be rectified. We do, however, review each case individually and we will take concerted cases of ambush marketing very seriously. In such cases, it may be necessary for us to take more formal legal steps to resolve the issue. This may include seeking an injunction to bring the infringement of our rights to an end and/or claiming financial compensation to rectify the damage. Formal court proceedings will always be a last resort but, where necessary, LOCOG will take legal action to resolve the matter.”

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