Driving to work the other day, I caught a CBC broadcast about the Olympic Brand protection and the absurd measures the International Olympic Committee will go to protect their brand.
In theory, I’m breaking the laws in place just by speaking ill of the games and linking to their website. According to the IOC rules, you’re only allowed to link to their site if you say nice things. Well, I don’t have anything nice to say, so sue me!
Another big issue is with companies and stores that haven’t paid sponsored the game using the Olympic brand and the legal issues doing so. I get the fact that sponsors like McDonald’s and Adidas have paid millions of dollars to sponsor the games. I also understand brand protection, I do work in advertising after all and must respect the companies making sure their names and likeness are used in only approved ways. The Olympics are different. They are about the people. It’s one thing selling counterfeit Olympic t-shirts, it’s another making the Olympic Rings out of issue in your flower shop to show your support
The people of London have put up with a lot for the Games to happen, including their own tax money. The IOC must understand that having this epic event in your home country, a local business will to want to capitalize upon it. Olympic organisers have warned businesses that during London 2012 their advertising should not include a list of banned words, including 2012. Twenty-Twelve, Olympics, London 2012, Sponsors, Games, Gold, Silver, Bronze, Summer. The list goes on and on. It’s seriously ridiculous, and I’m sure people will backlash against these totalitarian style rules. In theory, if you make a hand-drawn sign that says London 2012 and place it up in your store, you can be sued.
One of the trends to fight back against these rules include brands creating Olympic themed ads that toe the line of breaking the rules. But we’re not talking big brands here, we’re talking Mom & Pop shops that just want to make a buck to keep their business alive during what will probably be the most high-profile event in their neighbourhood ever!
It will be interesting to see how this plays out at Olympic venues around London. If I show up to an event wearing a Nike shirt, holding a Pepsi and eating Burger King, will I be turned away? After all, Adidas, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s are the official sponsors of the games.
What are your thoughts on this censorship? Let me know in the comments.