Small and medium-sized hospitality businesses will struggle to benefit from the 2012 Olympics in London because of a “draconian” change in marketing legislation, experts have warned.
The Olympics Act (2006) has added more words that must not be used in conjunction with each other in order to prevent “ambush marketing”. These include “Games”, “two thousand and twelve”, “2012”, “gold”, “silver” and “bronze”.
According to the legislation, brought in by the London Organising Committee Olympic Games (LOCOG), only top level sponsors, such as McDonalds, Coca-Cola and Cadbury, can make word association with the Games as part of their promotional efforts. There is a £20,000 fine for those that contravene the law.
Mark Stuart, head of research at The Chartered Institute of Marketing, said the “repressive piece of legislation” went “further than any previous legislation and further even than the requirements of the International Olympic Committee”.
“I have a feeling that small and medium-sized businesses in the UK will find it hard to benefit from the Olympics – only the large ones will benefit,” he said.
“We need to see a clarification by LOCOG as to what level [the legislation] will be enforced.”
But LOCOG insisted that the legislation is necessary in order to protect the interests of the sponsors, without whom it said the Games could not take place.
David Powell, lawyer at LOCOG, said: “Our business model is principally based on protecting sponsors’ exclusive rights. If businesses flout the law we have the option to ask for compensation but we will judge it on a case-by-case basis.”
By Gemma Sharkey
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