Marketing and the Olympics: we quiz LOCOG for answers
10 May 2012
ASA: In terms of protecting the marketing/advertising activities of Olympic partners, what are LOCOG’s key objectives in the lead up to and during the Games?
LOCOG: Since we won the bid to host the London 2012 Games in 2005 we have always sought to educate people about our legal rights, the investment our sponsors make and the damage which ambush marketing can do to a nation’s ability to host the Games. In other words, deterring and preventing ambush marketing has been our priority and it still is. Our guidelines and FAQs remain on our website for anyone to view (www.london2012.com/brandprotection) and we continue to work with industry bodies, like the ASA, to ensure businesses are able to seek advice if unsure about what they can and cannot do.
We have had fantastic support from our sponsors – without them, the Games simply could not happen. Now is the time that the rights they have purchased are the most valuable, and we must protect the exclusivity we have promised them by ensuring their competitors don’t seek to gain an association with the Games. We hope that all of the educational measures we have employed over the last few years pay off but where businesses do undertake ambush marketing we are ready to take swift action to prevent this.
ASA: What top tips can you give marketers planning ad campaigns around the Olympics on how to avoid breaching LOCOG rules?
LOCOG: Our legal rights are very wide and therefore any ‘Olympic’ themed campaign is likely to infringe them – even if it doesn’t refer explicitly to the Games. If a business is looking to undertake a marketing campaign which capitalises on the Games we would ask them to consider the ethics of doing so. Trying to associate a brand with the Games, and to feed off the excitement and goodwill in the Games, when you have not paid the sponsorship fees to do so directly damages the funding for the Games and the British Olympic and Paralympic Teams competing at them. The best way to support the Games and our athletes is to respect the legal framework and not attempt to leverage the Games in marketing campaigns.
To understand the scope of our rights, we would recommend businesses look at the faqs and documents available at www.london2012.com/brandprotection.
ASA: What are the common pitfalls that non-Olympic-partner advertisers run into?
LOCOG: Some businesses think that if they don’t use any of our logos or refer explicitly to the Games, this won’t infringe our rights. However, the London Olympics Association Right is drafted widely so that any representation which creates an association between a business or brand with the Games (subject to certain defences) infringes the right.
It is also worrying that we are still seeing businesses promoting competitions or prize draws to win Olympic or Paralympic tickets. The terms and conditions of the tickets prohibit all use of tickets for advertising, promotional or marketing purposes without our consent (which we reserve for sponsors). In addition, Section 31 of the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006 makes it a criminal offence to “sell” tickets in the course of trade without our consent. The definition of “sell” is broad and can capture use of tickets for promotional purposes where, for example, someone buys a product in return for being entered into the draw.
ASA: Are you actively monitoring for ads that might contravene intellectual property rights?
LOCOG: Yes, we are working with our official market research services provider, Nielsen, to monitor for infringing advertisement.
ASA: Do you provide any advice and training?
LOCOG: We have produced a range of faqs and guidelines (including some for specific sectors such as tourism and betting) which are available at www.london2012.com/brandprotection. We have also spoken at many industry events and held our own events, for example for marketing companies. We are not able to provide individual advice or training for businesses but have worked with organisations like the ASA to ensure they are able to provide advice.
ASA: What sanctions can LOCOG invoke if a marketer gets it wrong?
LOCOG: In relation to adverts which create an association with the Games, LOCOG is able to seek civil remedies including an injunction and damages, in some cases, requiring infringing items to be delivered to a certain place or person for destruction or retention. In addition, in the case of tickets being used without authorisation, we can void the tickets and where there is an offence under Section 31 of the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006 we will refer the matter to the police. Use of Olympic and Paralympic symbols and terminology to promote goods can also be a criminal offence which the police or trading standards may pursue. LOCOG could also refer a case to the ASA for adjudication for issues than can be addressed under the CAP or BCAP Codes.
During the Games, advertising and trading regulations will be in place around venues, meaning that many forms of advertising in the defined ‘event zones’ is prohibited unless authorised by LOCOG. For example, billboard advertisement, leafleting or sampling, give-aways and experiential advertising on the streets around venues will require LOCOG’s consent. Undertaking such advertising without LOCOG’s consent will be an offence punishable by a fine. More information on these regulations is available at www.london2012.com/advertisingandtrading