The event that cannot be named

As we look forward to a season that is normally associated with sunshine, the capital city of the UK is hosting a rather large sporting event that occurs every four years. As I write this blog, I am not allowed to name the event. I am not even allowed to name the season or the city. Well I can name the city but I am not allowed to name it and the year in the same sentence. I would have to say something like: I love London. 2012 is a great year. That full stop is very important. It means that I cannot be prosecuted by LOCOG for using the trademarks.

As readers may understand, we are all for sports sponsorship. We embrace the corporate dollar in our own sporting venues. We do not however like LOCOG and the IOC’s approach to the sponsorship of this year’s Olympics. By the way I am allowed to name the Olympics within the context of blogging about LOCOG’s approach to sponsorship and brand protection. I am not allowed to use it to show any sort of association between the Olympics and ourselves.

Of course, we all understand that the sponsors brands should be protected – and that cheeky guerrilla marketing exercises like the Bavaria Beer attempt to hijack a World Cup match from Budweiser should not be allowed, but I personally am aggrieved that I am prohibited from any sort of marketing messages mentioning the Olympics. I live in Richmond. It is a London Borough. I have thus paid the extra council tax to help fund the Olympics. I am the Marketing Director for a company in the UK that employs 150 people and that provides sporting events for over 100,000 people every year. One of our venues is being severely affected by Olympic Road Closures due to the cycle races (we have reduced opening hours this weekend at Daytona Sandown Park and are completely closed on 1st August for the same reason) and yet we get no compensation and are not even allowed to embrace the Olympic Games for fear of being fined for breaching their draconian restrictions.

Now don’t get me wrong; we wish all the athletes the very best for the Games. We sincerely hope that the entire event is a wonderful celebration of sport and that Britain receives the much needed tourist revenue and sporting legacies from the Games. We also hope that the billions being spent on security mean that the Games are not remembered for the wrong reasons. But our noses are more than a little out of joint that we have helped to pay for the games, we are being financially impacted by the Games AND we are not allowed to even mention them in our advertising and promotional messages or we will be fined £20,000.

Some people may think that this is sour grapes, but my principal concern is that the 2012 Games is a perfect example of how large companies are dictating our lives. I hope that we are not starting to look at a future like Verhoeven’s movie Robocop, where the OCP corporation runs an entire city. But if that is our future, then I hope that it is Budweiser that take over London – at least then we can spend the future in an inebriated state.

Jim Graham
Team Daytona

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