As London welcomes the Olympic Games, a slew of brands who aren't official sponsors of the event have attempted to crash the party with guerrilla marketing.
However, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG
) is working fiercely to protect the rights of official sponsors including P&G
who have spent small fortunes to help foot the bill for the Games, estimated to have cost around $14.4bn. Adidas
, for example, is reported to have paid around $62m to become an official sponsor.
LOCOG has implemented strict regulations about what language advertisers are allowed to use this summer, reprimanding those who use the words:
'Games', 'two thousand and twelve', '2012' and 'twenty-twelve'. Marketers who use those words in conjunction with 'London,' 'medals,' 'sponsors,' 'summer,' 'gold,' 'silver' and 'bronze' will be even more severely punished. LOCOG, with the British government, has criminalised major ambush marketing efforts and is punishing lesser offenses with fines of $30,000.
Small retailers are just as liable as large ones, for example LOCOG intervened to tell a butcher in Weymouth to remove an Olympic display featuring five rings made out of sausages, while a lingerie shop was similarly forced to remove a display showing the Olympic rings made out of bras. One cunning menswear store in Surrey attempted to bypass LOCOG restrictions with a display celebrating the 'Lodnon 2102 Oimplycs' and featuring a logo made of squares, not rings.
Below is a round-up of more high-profile attempts to ambush the Olympics:
Nike is attempted to steal the thunder from its rival adidas with the subtle implication that there are great athletes outside of the Olympics. The Find Greatness
campaign with its message that 'Greatness is for all of us' is centred around a TV spot that draws the attention away from the hype of the London Olympics and shines a spotlight instead on athletes in other cities called London: from London, Norway to London, Ohio and East London, South Africa. Through Wieden+Kennedy
, Portland, the idea is that greatness is not reserved 'for the chosen few'. 'The other way of putting it,' Nike spokesman Charlie Brooks told the New York Times, 'is that greatness doesn't just happen in the stadiums of London. We're saying that greatness can be anywhere for anyone and you can achieve it on your own terms.' http://gonike.me/findgreatness
Paddy Power /
Bookmaker Paddy Power created billboards promoting its sponsorship of an athletics event in London, France. The tongue-in-cheek posters read: 'Official sponsor of the largest athletics event in London this year! There you go, we said it. (Ahem, London, France that is).' Rather than become an Olympic sponsor, Paddy Power became the sponsor of an egg and spoon race in London, France on 1 August. Although LOCOG demanded that Paddy Power take down the advertisements, the bookmaker threatened legal action, which caused LOCOG to reverse its decision.
Wine merchants Oddbins is protesting against LOCOG's strict rules with a censorship-themed campaign. The retailer has decorated its windows with posters about how it is censored from talking about the Olympics, for example: 'We can't mention the event, we can't mention the city, we can't even mention the year... At least they can't stop us from telling you about the Rococo Rose'. Oddbins is also offering a £30 discount to any customer who is supporting non-sponsors of the Olympics by wearing Nike shoes, carrying Vauxhall car keys, an RBS MasterCard, an iPhone, a bill from British Gas and a receipt for a Pepsi bought at KFC. Ayo Akintola
, managing director at Oddbins, said that the campaign was to 'highlight the absurdity of the fact that the British people - who are paying for these games - are at the same time being subject to ridiculous rules'. Akintola also accused LOCOG of mistreating non-sponsors saying: '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.'
While LOCOG has proved that it doesn't have much of a sense of humour (or an appreciation for sausages made to look like Olympic rings), it's hard to fault the organisation altogether for rallying against non-sponsors. After all, LOCOG's main interest is to protect the rights of its sponsors, which have spent small fortunes to get their brands associated with the Olympics. It will be interesting to see which brands make the most from the global sporting event - those who paid to be official partners, or the trouble-makers making noise outside the stadium. www.paddypower.com/betwww.oddbins.com/