by Tim Priestman
As the 27th July fast approaches, the Olympic Committee’s branding team have been out in full force up and down the country to clamp down on those not adhering to strict branding guidelines surrounding the Olympic Games.
There is no doubt that the guidelines serve as a deterrent to major brands, who have sufficient following and influence to benefit from unauthorised association with the event, in terms of sales hijacked from like for like competitors.
However, there is an argument questioning whether enforcing the same level of penalisation on the small business community makes sense. It suggests that the amount of time and effort spent in investigating alleged SME infringement is out of line with the small threat this sector poses to official sponsors.
It is thought that a business owner in East London, whose café was already called ‘The Olympic’, was forced to change the name to ‘The Lympic’, after being told they could face legal action if the original name was retained.
In another case, a butcher whose premises overlooks where the Olympic sailing events are due to take place, has been ordered to remove a sign of the Olympic rings (which he made from several strings of sausages) from his window display.
Although the Olympic Committee is right to protect its trade mark, as well as those who have paid for the privilege of associating themselves with the Games, does a unified approach, with regards how businesses of all sizes are penalised, seem fair? For future events therefore, maybe the Committee may want to consider a staggered approach to breaking branding guidelines, which takes into account the level of risk posed by a business in terms of the influence they have throughout the market(s) they serve and the subsequent threat posed to the investment made by official sponsors.