Shush! Don’t mention the Olympics!
I got the weekly marketing email from eBay yesterday and the main box out section was “Turn your home into a stadium, with our great choice home electronics”. I’ve no problem with this per se, but the reason eBay are being so coy and not saying “Get yourself a big telly to watch the Olympics” is because they don’t want to get sued.
I’ve yet to see much positive Olympic PR, although to be fair David Cameron did a great job of trying to paper over the cracks of LOCOG’s team yesterday, even praising the last government for helping bring the Games to the UK. The trouble is that LOCOG are so desperately trying to protect the investment of the sponsors that everyone else is scared to mention the Olympics in their marketing in case they get a £20,000 fine.
It didn’t help the brand police cause last week, when Seb Coe arbitrarily banned spectators from turning up to the games wearing anything with a Pepsi logo. When pressed he said you might be ok wearing Nike trainers, but he appears to be so obsessed about the sponsors that he’s stifling the country’s small businesses from benefiting from the Olympics. Embarrassingly LOCOG didn’t back up Lord Coe saying “Any individual coming into our venues can wear any item of clothing, branded or otherwise”.
With the brand mafia on the warpath it’s not surprising that everyone including eBay is subtly alluding to the London 2012 Olympic Games as “The Summer of Sports“. On eBay’s Olympic themed microsite, the “Support your nation” link gets you Olympic branded merchandise, but they don’t dare to actually mention the 2012 Games in their marketing. Whilst the UKTI has opened up the British Business Embassy at Lancaster House, to tout for overseas trade, the rest of the country are worrying about what they can and can’t say to attract consumers to their wares.
eBay warn their sellers to be aware that several terms and trademarks related to the Olympic Games and London 2012 are protected and can only be used in compliance with legal guidance“. It’s no surprise eBay themselves talk about Stadiums and the Summer of sports and don’t mention the Olympic Games.
The one person who really appears to have seen sense is London Mayor Boris Johnson, who scoffed saying “If you want to stick five doughnuts in your window and call them Olympic rings then be my guest” and “If bakers want to make a gigantic Olympic pretzel in the high streets of London to advertise their wares then let them do so“. He left LOCOG in no doubt of his meaning insisting “I think it’s absolute nonsense. Certainly no brand army is going have support of the administration in London – and we won’t be making any efforts to enforce it ourselves”
So enjoy the Summer of Sports Opening Ceremony this evening. Cheer for our athletes, but shush… don’t mention the London 2012 Olympic Games. That’s not allowed.