3 Reasons London 2012 Leaves A Sour Taste

LOCOG – the organising committee for the London 2012 Olympic Games – is successfully implementing brand exclusion zones around all of its Games sites.

Sure, argue the brand protectionism angle. Prevent ambush marketing. Get the maximum return you can for the media space buyers – sorry, sponsors – who have forked out for a share of millions of eyeballs.

Implement a uniform look all you like.  Red, white and blue all the way.

Just don’t expect the public to buy it.

I want planning a rant on the topic of exclusion zones, brand police and homogeneity in event spaces.

But instead, I’m going to slap three thoughts on the table like freshly caught washed trout and let you make your minds up.

1) The punters just want to see a show.

We’re told that London 2012 is the People’s Games. Or something.  So far, all I can see is brand policing worthy of 1984 which stops the ordinary Joanne and Jack from uploading trackside footage to their personal Youtube space.

Sure, people will buy stuff while they’re there, and get indoctrinated from the hoards of similar advertising messages which are going to be swamping the venues.

But they’re not at a venue to see advertising, or get involved with a flash mob (because I wager that one of the official brands will put one on).  The punters have paid to see (and celebrate) athletes pushing the boundaries of human potential.

Part of seeing and celebrating is sharing and discussing.

Simple as that – and I fear that this is getting lost in the increasing brand paranoia.

2) Increasing levels of brand crackdown are giving branding a bad name.

Goodness knows, those of us who already work in the branding field have to explain to our mothers why we can’t let our designers ‘just get on with it’ on a daily basis (once we’ve explained what it is we do anyway).

This type of brand policing to the exclusion of everything else is creating a situation which will inform many events to come and start making branding look not like something that adds business value, but a tool with which to pugnaciously take value away from other businesses.

3) London 2012 will be the event equivalent of a Mac & fries.

Introducing such homogeneity will make every event venue look pretty much the same.

A drag’n’drop event template delivering a replicable experience whether you’re in the renamed Sports Direct stadium, the Copper Box, Riverside Arena or the Ricoh Arena (sorry, the City of Coventry Stadium).

In fact, I reckon you could drag’n’drop the model anywhere else in the world.  Kinda defeats the object of having the Games hosted in London, doesn’t it?

While I understand the brand protection background LOCOG are operating from, this all feels extremely heavy handed.

Athletes are, rightly, an exclusive bunch by virtue of what they do.

Watching them and getting involved from the sidelines should be an inclusive experience.

However, in one of the most inclusive cities in the world, I fear that it’s going to be anything but.

If you need to know more about the Advertising regulations brought in by LOCOG, see the official website here.  I am in no way affiliated to London 2012, LOCOG or anyone involved with the Games in any way, shape or form.

Neil Hopkins is a Marketing and Branding Theorist at heart, and a Marketing Communications Manager by day. His blog – interacter – is the primary location he shares insight and information relating to marketing, branding and advertising strategy.
You can follow Neil on Twitter, circle him (like an escaped bull) on Google+ or track him down in any number of other ways.

Featured image for this post comes from Paul Mcgreevy’s Flickr Photostream under creative commons.


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