There’s no doubt that 2012 is Great Britain’s year - we had our Golden Jubilee celebrations, followed by the ‘summer of sport’ and the biggest sporting event on the planet, the Olympics. As you read this the Olympic party will have started, but I can’t help feeling that it’s a great shame we’ve not been able to celebrate in the way in which we would have liked.
I am sure we have seen and read what we can and cannot do with our marketing around the Olympics. I understand that sponsors have paid a lot of money to be there, but when we face a situation where actual words have been copyrighted and cannot be used then it is a step too far.
It’s not just we convenience stores affected, either. Spare a thought for the 800 food retailers around the venues which are banned from selling chips to protect fragile fast food giant McDonald’s. Or what about the general public? If you are lucky enough to have got tickets and want to wear that favourite Pepsi T-shirt to an event, think again. Olympic sponsorship is so totalitarian these days that any form of brand dissent, including what you may be wearing when in front of the TV cameras, is not going to be tolerated.
When I first sat down with my team to compile our Olympic marketing ideas we came up with Knight’s Budgens Games involving the schools and local shops, Olympic colouring competition, and loyalty-based sports equipment incentive for parents. Not one would have been acceptable in the way we wanted to market them. I have never found myself in this position before, where we were genuinely afraid to use words in our store marketing.
We have made it work to a fashion, but why have we been placed in this situation? The legislation passed to give the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) this power is a dangerous precedent, not only in terms of our businesses, but for the free speech which we all take for granted.
Perhaps 2012 is the start of the new 1984. Happy OLUMPIC 2012 trading everyone!