Ambush marketing will be a criminal offence during Olympics

Brands that are not official sponsors of the 2012 Olympic Games need to think carefully before launching an ambush marketing campaign during the sporting event.

Mark Evans talks at the Guide Live
Mark Evans talks at the Guide Live
Speaking at yesterday’s Guide Live winter event at the Science Museum, Kommando founder and managing director Mark Evans told industry representatives that strict legislation designed to protect sponsors from ambush marketing campaigns could in fact be damaging to them.

"These brands may need a clever PR strategy to survive this," said Evans.

The new legislation has mapped out specific zones in and around the Olympic park, where any guerrilla marketing campaign two weeks before and up to five weeks after the Games will be a criminal offence. It will have no protection from the European Convention on Human Rights, which Evans says "undermines what the justice system is all about".

If an event takes place on water, the law will cover the entire sea or river where the event is being held. It will also stretch a mile above any event in the air. Even athletes that are sponsored by a particular brand cannot have any association with that brand during the Games.

"The law is draconian to say the least," he said. "Even social media is covered. It’s not safe to tweet certain words if the brand is taking any commercial benefit from it."

Evans said non-sponsors need to look outside of the designated no-go zones. "Look at maps of the zones and work out how people are going to be travelling to the events," he advised. "The legislation can’t cover all the rail links and train stations in the city."

"I don’t think the law could be any more aggressive," he continued. "Yes, we have to protect the vested interest of the sponsors, but this legislation is a step too far. We’re a creative country; and someone’s going to have a pop at it."

What do you think about this legislation? Could it damage the official sponsors? Would you still consider a guerrilla marketing campaign during the Games? Let us know.

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