If you haven’t been living in some kind of hermetically-sealed monastic retreat for the last twelve months you will have you noticed that there’s something going on in East London. And you’ll probably have read some of the stories doing the media rounds on the subject of branding. Sadly, Pierre de Coubertin is no longer around to tell us what he thinks of the idea of the “Olympic brand” and how worked up he thinks we should get about its misuse but more than a century later it’s likely that it’s something, along with the vested interests of the “commercial partners” of the Games, which is here to stay.
Some of the more outrageous urban myths affecting spectators–the alleged banning of Pepsi T-shirts and Nike trainers, for example–have since been refuted by the Olympic organising bods but there are still some interesting cases.
There are similarities with our beloved world of academic copyright I suppose in that it’s where there could be commercial consequences that rights owners are particularly apt to raise objections. For example, where local companies use logos (like the five rings) or slogans or just generally–and not necessarily in a cynical way–spot a business opportunity in the fact that at the moment the Olympics is very much on people’s minds.
You might anyway think that LOCOG have been unnecessarily heavy-handed in their treatment of some of the businesses who they see as offenders. Marketing Week have published a list of the top five Olympic branding breaches which illustrate some of the more extreme cases they’ve come across. Can you spot the odd one out?
There have also been some quite creative attempts to sidestep the branding police. It’s not clear though, even with these less blatant cases, whether LOCOG still think they have justifiable grounds for complaint.
Monsieur de Coubertin would probably not want to have lived to see his Olympic ideals come to this. Enjoy Seb Coe’s Big Sports Day.
(Image: Creative Commons licence from Viktor Hertz)