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When Bad Things Happen to Good Advertisers.

The Branding Police Out of Control at London Olympics.

The Summer Olympics are known for bringing nations together through sports, but it seems like this summer, the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) will be known for creating disharmony and locking down advertising rights exclusively for sponsors at the expense of local marketers. A 35-day, one-kilometer brand exclusion zone will be enforced around all Olympic venues. The idea is to keep other brands from competing with official sponsors such as British Airways, McDonalds, Coca-Cola and Heineken, among others.

So if you’re a local brewery for example, don’t even think about having your signage display your craft beer hence the brand police come touting tape to cover it up. Last I checked nobody owned the words Games, Two Thousand and Twelve, 2012, Twenty-Twelve, London, medals, sponsors, summer, gold, silver or bronze. So if you’re a regional marketer with different levels of service such as Gold, Silver or Bronze to describe your categories it’s not going to happen during July because you’re banned from utilizing these words during the event period (notice I didn’t use the word “games”). After the Olympics packed its tent up, you could go back to your normal marketing strategies.

Even more unbelievable is how LOCOG is attempting to control social media. They have put together an extensive social media and blogging policy for athletes to attempt to keep them from accidentally Tweeting about a brand that isn't an Olympic Sponsor. The International Olympic Committee has launched its own social-media platform, the "Olympic Athletes' Hub" to monitor the Twitter and Facebook accounts of more than 1,000 current athletes and past competitors.  Really?!

I'm a big fan of consistency of branding, but this has gone to far. After all how are you going to muzzle thousands of people who have a mobile device. Furthermore LOCOG you need to unlock the handcuffs on marketers. Isn’t the Olympics about bringing people together and not harnessing them?