London 2012 Olympics rules leading to 'watered-down' PR campaigns

The London 2012 Olympics is in danger of 'alienating audiences' as it bows to corporate backing, leading to 'watered-down' PR campaigns.

London 2012: Olympic Delivery Authority has sent out nearly 300 enforcement officers to clamp down on ‘ambush marketing’
London 2012: Olympic Delivery Authority has sent out nearly 300 enforcement officers to clamp down on ‘ambush marketing’

News has emerged today that the Olympic Delivery Authority is sending out nearly 300 enforcement officers to firms from 23 July to ensure they are not staging ‘ambush marketing’ or associating themselves with the Games without being one of its high profile sponsors.

The ODA enforcement officers have the powers to bring court action against companies that breach the rules, with fines of up to £20,000.

ODA's powers build on the strict guidlines LOCOG has produced for brands. The rules include a list of banned words that include ‘London’, ‘sponsors’, ‘gold’, ‘silver’ and ‘bronze’.

W Communications MD Warren Johnson told PRWeek that brands without Olympic sponsorship deals are holding back on much of their proactive PR activity until after the closing ceremony.

He suggested that the strict guidelines and rules will lead to the majority of creative activity coming from non-official stunts, with social media providing the perfect platform for brands without official links to get their 'five minutes of fame’.  

‘The feedback we've had from industry sources working with brands that have been dealing with LOCOG and the ODA has been that delivering high-profile creative campaigns has been a real challenge, with the majority of ideas being watered-down to the point where they have little or no impact,' said Johnson.

Speed MD Steve Earl agreed, adding: ‘Many have chosen not to take the risk of breaking rules and so have entered what amounts to a quiet period.

‘The rules of London 2012 are the most draconian I’ve witnessed and the restrictions have dominated online conversation in the run-up to the Games and annoyed a lot of the people who’d otherwise be right behind them.'

He added that the Games is in danger of 'alienating a section of its audience because of the extent to which corporate backing is being milked'.

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