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Unofficial Olympic Advertising Sails Close To The Wind

Posted on Aug 01, 2012 by Dr. Julie Nixon  | 0 Comments

Following on from our last blog, it was with some amusement to read that a few prominent brands are doing their best to get in on the Olympic party while steering clear of the draconian brand protection of the Olympic sponsors.

The managing director of Oddbins, Ayo Akintola, issued the following statement;

“… thanks to LOCOG any business without the tens of millions of pounds required to join the cabal of multinational brand partners for the Games are reduced to the status of beggars on the gilded streets of the Olympic movement.”

Oddbins are planning window displays promoting an enterprising special offer (involving non-Olympic sponsors) where Nike wearing customers with a set of Vauxhall car keys, an RBS MasterCard, an iPhone, a bill from British Gas and a receipt for a Pepsi  bought at KFC will receive 30 per cent off their purchase.  Although Oddbins believe this will not breach the LOCOG rules they indicated that they “…would not be surprised if LOCOG goes loco”

The always enterprising people at Brewdogs have come up with an “Olympic” beer called “Never Mind the Anabolics” which contains a list of banned performance enhancing ingredients. The message from James Watt, co-founder of BrewDog;

“It seems a beer laced with performance enhancing ingredients isn’t actually illegal, but it is definitely frowned upon. However, we don’t think Never Mind the Anabolics is as absurd and obnoxious as the tenuous sponsorship deals from fast food chains and global mega breweries that seem to define the people’s games.”

Meanwhile Nike itself is running the “Find Your Greatness” campaign, mentioning every “London” in the world bar the Olympic city itself, although taking care to avoid any imagery related to the Olympics.   Paddy Power managed to upset LOCOG after producing a billboard campaign stating they were the "official sponsor of the largest athletics event in London this year".  In fact the billboards clearly referenced an egg and spoon race organized in London, France,  however  LOCOG still wanted them wanted the billboards taken down, and only relented when Paddy Power’s lawyers threatened to take LOCOG to court.   

Interestingly, trend-tracking company Global Language Monitor (GLM) have produced a report showing that of the top 50 brands most associated by the public with the London Olympics, only 23 are actually official sponsors of the games.   This suggests that the 27 ‘non-official’ sponsors have all been extremely clever in being able to promote their products in a way which creates an association with the Olympics in the mind of the public – but falls short of expressly doing so in a way that breaches the L OCOG rules.   Or could it be that the public just assume the usual top brands will be involved in sponsorship  - and that some lucky brands might actually be benefitting from Olympic association without either paying a fortune to LOCOG or spending a slightly smaller fortune on clever advertising?  Surely not...

Julie Nixon

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