London is closed. It's not a phrase that will appear on any marketing material over the next 18 months, but, for many brands, realistically this will be the case. With the Olympics - apparently a large sporting event set to take over the capital, using up a huge proportion of its infrastructure and emergency services - the chances to stage events will be very limited indeed.
And this is not idle bluster. The Greater London Authority (GLA) and Mayor of London have asked everyone interested in producing an event in 2012 to register it, so provisions can be made to run more Tube trains and buses, or put police and ambulances on standby should they be needed. It's a sensible policy, and many organisations have come forward with ideas and proposals. To make it clear what sort of size of event the GLA considers might impact on infrastructure, those with more than 499 proposed attendees were asked to come forward.
This is all fine, except that the deadline passed a day before the publication of this magazine on 1 April. And no, that's not a poor April Fool's gag, it's a fact.
"If you're planning a 2012 event, you must give London's public services providers plenty of notice, and supply all details by 31 March," says the GLA website.
What this means is that if you haven't registered your event for 2012 - and that's the whole of 2012, not just the Olympic period - you might have no chance of staging it at all.
Where does this leave all those brands wanting to exercise last-minute or guerrilla activity next year, or those that have simply been a bit tardy in getting their events programme sorted? Well, it's not good news, for two reasons:
First, the government has promised to enforce, albeit with a 'light touch', a bill from 2006 that prevents ambush marketing activity around the Olympics and its venues, particularly during the Games. With sponsorship counting for more than £2bn of the cost of the Olympics, organisers are keen to protect their investors. Events broadly trying to associate with the Games will be dispersed fairly rapidly, and any permission to stage them will likely be denied, whatever the size.
Second, there are the aforementioned measures to allocate London resources during 2012, which is also the year of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. It is estimated that during the Olympics there will be an extra four million unticketed visitors in London. Essentially, the city's infrastructure will be stretched very thinly, and those event organisers who have failed to let the powers that be know what they are planning, may have to shelve those plans altogether.
"Holding the Olympics and Paralympics is fantastic, but it also puts significant demands on the city's infrastructure and services,"
says a Mayor's office spokesman. "To accommodate an event of this size we must plan ahead, and that's why the Diary opened in the summer last year. After an initial review there may be some capacity, but organisers shouldn't rely on there being any spare at the last minute."
The Diary referred to above is the Culture Diary, something Event revealed was being produced last year and which also closed its books on 31 March. It is an attempt to create an online record of events taking place in London during 2012, specifically those events that, as the moniker suggests, can be classed as cultural.
"We are giving cultural organisers the opportunity to potentially be a part of a promotional campaign, while providing an opportunity to identify if there are any clashes with their events," says the GLA.
The cultural events registered will effectively form part of a wider promotional campaign extolling the virtues of London to the millions of additional visitors. Again, though, this opportunity has now passed, so whereas the Wireless Festival is set to benefit from being in the Culture Diary, many events have missed out.
But just how many are taking place and how many are likely to be cancelled? More than 1,300 were listed on the diary, and many more will have been registered that do not fall under the cultural banner, but the likelihood is that a huge swathe of event organisers will miss out in 2012.
"Events might not be able to go ahead if they have an impact on public services and the city's infrastructure," says the Mayor's office spokesman. "There still may be capacity to accommodate your event. If it is likely to have limited impact on the city's resources, this could also make it easier to go ahead."
This effectively means that small events with little impact on city infrastructure will have no problems, but if you're planning to break the line-dancing world record in the middle of Oxford Street, you might want to think again.
As to the question of how many events are set to be cancelled, it's impossible to quantify, given that at least half of the brands likely to put on the sort of event that could impact on the city's infrastructure have not yet finalised their 2012 plans.
Brands from the financial, retail and automotive worlds, as well as major agencies, told Event they are still in the early planning stages of events for next year. Of 17 brands undertaking activity in 2012, ten told us they were not sure what they were doing in Olympic year. Extrapolate that out, and a lot of events may have to be downsized if they want to get the go-ahead in 2012.
In reality, London will not close in 2012; there will be more events and visitors in the capital next year than ever before, and the GLA says it will work with some organisers who have last-minute plans.
But the opportunity to state your case early has gone. There are a finite number of security barriers, of bobbies, of roads that can reasonably by closed or marshalled, and resources will clearly be stretched. The event industry needs to get its act in gear if it wants to make an impact in 2012. Unfortunately, for many that ship may have already sailed.
EVENTS ALREADY REGISTERED FOR 2012
Team GB 2012 Olympic athletes parade
14 August, Westminster
On specially designed floats.
Ben & Jerry's Sundae
28-29 July (no venue set)
Music, fairground rides and zoo.
Unspecified commercial concert
20-22 July, Victoria Park
Commercial music concert, part of the Live Site programme.
1 June to 30 September, Twickenham Stadium
Five concerts in the summer.
Diamond Jubilee river pageant
3 June, River Thames
Flotilla between Putney and Canary Wharf, in celebration of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
Hard Rock Calling
13-15 July, Hyde Park
Rock festival held in central London's Hyde Park.
Unspecified London 2012 hospitality activity
1 July to 30 September, British Library
20-30 September, Shoreditch Park
Beer Festival with Tyrolean music, lederhosen and food.
West End 2012 fashion and food spectacular
26 July, Oxford Street and Regent Street
Traffic-free festival to celebrate the Olympic Torch in West End.
What events are you planning around the 2012 Olmypics? Email us at email@example.com