The London brand police

The London Brand Police
The London Brand Police

If you're headed to the Olympic Games this summer, first of all: Wow, you're lucky. Take lots of pictures.

Second of all, you might want to keep an eye out for the nearly 300 enforcement officers whose sole job will be to make sure no “ambush” marketing will take place. Spooky stuff.

According to a story in The Independent, an army of enforcers—a “brand army” in purple shirts and hats—started work July 16 to get rid of any nearby advertising not authorized by the London Games. Non-sponsors have been warned not to, in any way, affiliate themselves with the Olympic Games, and are banned from using terms that show an official relationship with the games, such as  “London,” “gold,” “silver,” “bronze,”  or “sponsors.”

As a result of these rules, the story says that 40 different venues with 800 food vendors have been banned from selling French fries—“chips”—because McDonald's is a sponsor. Why invite the competition? Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola and Adidas are also official sponsors of the London Games.

A big part of the money for the games, about £1.4 billion of £11.4 billion, according to The Independent, comes from sponsorships. The 11 core sponsors are paying big money, and it's clear that they expect big ROIs by being a big part of the games.

Infractions might result in an up to a £20,000 fine. Which is, well, not so great for ROI.

So please, folks, leave your company's banners and signs at home. Unless, of course, your company is a paying sponsor.

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