17 April 2012


Marketing during the Olympics: LOCOG’s rules for (not) using the brand

As we draw closer to the 2012 London Olympics, myriad companies are working out how to ride on the back of what will be a rare opportunity to push their brands into the homes of the estimated 4 billion people worldwide who will watch the games on their televisions.

According to the CIM Marketing Trends Survey carried out in 2009:

“34% of working marketers say that it is likely that their organisation will undertake some marketing activities connected to the London 2012 Games. But 87% said they lack awareness about the legality of Olympic-related marketing activities.” (CIM: 2011)olympic brand guidelines

With stringent prohibitions detailed in the London 2012’s UK Statutory Marketing Rights document, non-sponsors need to bear in mind how closely they go to aligning themselves with this summer’s main event.

Use of Related Terms

In order to prevent non-sponsors from ambushing the games, and to protect the £1billion investment pumped in by the official sponsors, LOCOG have issued a list of terms that cannot be used in conjunction with each other for marketing purposes:

List A: Games, 2012, Two Thousand and Twelve, Twenty-Twelve

List B: Gold, Silver, Bronze, Medals, Sponsor/s, London, Summer

Terms of Use

LOCOG has stipulated that reference to the Olympics can be used in certain instances where the information is not deemed to be promotional or associated closely with the games.

Here’s a brief overview of what you can’t do:

  • Use the official London 2012 logo, the Olympic Rings or any other logo that attempts to replicate or impersonate the official logos
  • Make use of or depict images of the Olympic torch and the Olympic flame
  • Use the words ‘Olympic’, ‘Olympiad’, Olympian’, ‘Olympix’ or variants
  • Allude to or falsely suggest any association with the Olympics

Here’s what you can do:

  • Use the terms in a context which doesn’t imply an association with your brand
  • Refer to the Olympics in an informational, non-promotional way (e.g. “We are situated near the Olympic village…”)
  • Cover news/reports related to the games

The rules have provoked mixed reactions from business and the public alike, with many claiming that since the taxpayer is footing the £9billion bill to host the games, and the unlikely competition posed by small businesses, UK citizens should be allowed to use the opportunity to promote their businesses. Officials, however, have made their stand. What do you think? Should non-sponsors be allowed to use the Olympics?

For full details of how you can market without fear of violating the rules, read the LOCOG’s Brand Protection guidelines here.

By Adam Cowlishaw


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