Thursday, 12 January 2012

No medals for breaking the rules

Shropshire companies planning to cash in on this year's Olympics must take special care with their advertising or face some serious consequences.

Our senior partner, Graham Davies, said many companies would be planning to celebrate the Games in some way - maybe offering a special promotion or discount directly linked to the events. "But if this is your marketing strategy you'll need to do your homework very carefully or you may be in breach of the Olympics Act 2006."

Graham said official sponsors and advertisers had paid around £700 million to have their names and brands associated with the Olympics.

"So you can understand why they wouldn't want their investment, name or the Olympics itself being ambushed by anyone with no official status. This could happen if your company claims a product or service you're selling is associated with or linked to the Games in some way, even innocently."

To tackle the problem, the already strict advertising rules surrounding the Olympics have been tightened up, and there is a greater responsibility on companies to prove they haven't broken the rules.

"The Act defined exactly what advertising is regulated and in what areas. This includes billboards, posters, advertisements and any other forms of marketing such as giveaways, promotions and aerial advertising. The rules apply in certain geographical areas around any Games venue and also include private land."

And Graham warned that directors and senior employees who flout the advertising rules could be held personally liable for the offence unless they could prove otherwise.

"Your first step should be to check out the official guidance on how to use the Olympic brand and you might also consider contacting your local authority's licensing officer for advice. But to avoid risking a serious breach of the rules, it might be wiser to remove any mention of the Olympics from your advertising or promotional material altogether."