You are here > Home > News
Should Olympic marketing rules be relaxed?
Marketing News |
With the UK economy continuing to struggle five years after the start of the credit crunch, many businesses are hoping the upcoming Olympics can be a catalyst for growth. Millions of people are set to descend on London and the south-east during late July and August, eager to sample the unique atmosphere of the world's biggest sporting event. Athletes, organisers, journalists and spectators are set to provide a much-needed injection of finance into the economy, one which could have positive repercussions around the UK.
For businesses based in the East End of London, where the Games are being staged, there is a clear opportunity to cash in on the event. But in order to do so, they will have to be very careful about how they target potential customers. As the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has proved in the past, and in the run-up to 2012, companies which contravene its tough marketing laws will face tough, immediate sanctions. With official sponsors investing millions in the staging of the Games, the various Olympic trademarks are some of the most closely monitored and protected in the world.
The upshot of this is that local businesses are likely to fail in attempts to align themselves with London 2012, unless they have the financial clout to become an official sponsor. Since the Games is the domain of the multi-national corporation, the majority of local companies will be excluded. And as such, they are required to market their goods and services to visitors in a more creative way. Companies may think they can boost trade during the Games by adding 'Olympic' to their name or using images of the Olympic Rings, but should they do so they are likely to face enforcement action or even end up in court.
Are businesses being unfairly treated?
This has caused some consternation among some private sector operators, whose business activities may have been disrupted over the last five years during major construction work. The creation of the Olympic Park may have helped regenerate a run-down part of the capital, but some members of the community, such as local businesses, are excluded from the proceedings. Many have called for a watering down of the IOC's tough policies on advertising and brand protection, but they are unlikely to get their wish.
So strict are the marketing rules that even companies involved in delivery process have limited rights when it comes to Olympic advertising. So despite playing a role in the construction of stadia or other facilities, contractors may not be able to publicise their involvement. For instance, architect Wilkinson Eyre was recently refused permission to enter the 2012 New London Awards for its achievements in designing the Basketball Arena, on the basis that the application may contravene IOC marketing rules.
MPs response to rule enforcement
Shadow Olympics minister Tessa Jowell expressed dissatisfaction at Locog's enforcement of these rules. "This kind of stricture was never the intention when the rules were designed," she stated, referring to the Wilkinson Eyre case. "I hope that a reasonable compromise can be found so that these great British architects can get the recognition that they deserve."
Based upon his recent comments, the prime minister also sympathises with companies in such as position. "It's vital we don’t allow rules on Olympic marketing to block companies from making the most of that success,” David Cameron said. “So we are working with the British Olympic Association and IOC to make sure Olympic marketing rules do not get in the way." But crucially, he stopped short of promising a revision of the existing rules in time for the Games, which start in under a fortnight.
Essentially, the government does not have the power to do so. The IOC is a hugely powerful and influential organisation, and its official sponsors are perhaps even more so. The companies which have invested in the staging of London 2012 have multi-billion pound turnovers, and generate significant tax receipts for the Treasury. In this sense, they are not the sort of organisations a national government would actively seek to alienate.
The reality of hosting the Olympics
In applying to host the Olympics, the London team were required to accept all manner of terms and conditions related to the delivery. Undoubtedly, the commercial implications of acting as a host city were fully understood at the time, and the bidding team agreed to enforce the IOC's strict marketing rules to the letter. For ordinary fans, the Games may be all about the pursuit of medals and sporting glory, but the fact remains that the Olympics has become big business, and this overrides all else.
Post-2012, it may be the case that companies involved in the delivery are able to benefit from their participation, attracting new orders and driving revenue through their enhanced status and reputation. In this sense, the Olympics can have a positive legacy for UK companies, and ensure the economy does benefit from staging the Games. London 2012 offers a unique opportunity to make the city the centre of the world's attention, and private sector businesses want an invitation to the party.
Posted by Jon Aspinell
Marketing Recruitment Agency - 12.5% Fee / 3 Month, 100% Rebate - Transparent Recruitment Fees Since 1999.
Sign up to our e-newsletter service to receive our headline news directly to your inbox