British businesses are no doubt excited that the Olympics are coming to their fair land. Even if they're not official sponsors of the London 2012 Summer Games, it's reasonable to exect that the influx of tourists would boost the local economy, not only frequenting businesses but wanting to take home a few pieces of England to share with those who weren’t lucky enough to join them in viewing the world’s premier athletes in competition.
But some of that glee has turned to heartache in the days leading up to the Games. The International Olympic Committee and the London Organizing Committee (LOCOG) have been coming down hard on any business that comes anywhere close to aligning themselves with the Games if they haven’t shelled out the mega-millions it takes to be an official partner of the event. You may recall the story of the "Lympic" cafe, so-renamed after being asked by officials to drop its O. Now comes the case of the tissue-paper Olympic rings.
“A florist has been ordered to take down a tissue paper Olympic rings display from her shop window because it breaches trademark rules,” according to The Daily Mail. The small flower shop in question, La Rose Florists in Stoke-on-Trent, were apparently told they may be sued by such megacorporations as Coca-Cola for their creativity.
"We've only been running the shop for 15 months, and I don't want to do anything to put it at risk," said one of the partners, Lisa Cross, to a reporter. “People have come into the shop and told me the display looks absolutely brilliant. One woman came in and picked up a torch, which is part of the display, and asked if she could buy it. I had to tell her I needed it. I had no idea I was breaking any rules. I just wanted to support Team GB and the Olympics.”
Ad Age goes so far as to say that the crackdown in London is worse than it was in Beijing in 2008.
As torchbearers carry the Olympic flame through Britain's small villages, towns and cities, supporters are lining the route to cheer them on their way. But well in advance of those iconic moments, the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games has been swooping onto the torch route, cleaning up the streets to make sure that any unscripted displays of participation — or branding — are nipped in the bud.
Already, London's famed O2 Arena is being renamed "North Greenwich Arena" during the Games "due to IOC rules." According to Ad Age, "O2's contract to provide telecommunications for the games has nothing to do with naming rights, according to LOGOC."
Does it really matter if supporters, applauding 8,000 individuals who have mostly won the right to carry the torch because of their tireless work for the local community, see a makeshift café sign offering an "Olympic breakfast" or an unsanctioned tissue-paper tribute to the Olympic rings in a shop window? Does this constitute ambush marketing? The LOCOG thinks so.
This kind of total clampdown might have been expected during the 2008 games in Beijing, but London? In 2012? In fact, the London restrictions are harsher than they were in China four years ago. The Olympics kick off on July 27 and to protect those megabucks-spending sponsors, there is “a 35-day, one-kilometer Brand Exclusion Zone” that “will be enforced around all Olympic venues, inside which no brands that compete with official sponsor brands can advertise,” Ad Age notes.
So it won’t just be the athletes getting a workout in London — brands of all sizes will be put through their paces, too. At least spectators wearing logos and branding of non-Olympic partners won't be barred.
[image via La Rose/Facebook]