Companies invest millions of pounds for the right to associate
their brands with the Olympics whether it's in the capacity of
official broadcaster, sponsor, supplier or licensee. Such is the
pull of these global sporting events, LOCOG (London Organising
Committee of the Olympic Games) have been granted statutory powers
to stop businesses that seek these same benefits for free, without
investing in the Games by paying for the privilege.
The laws are stringent, wide-ranging but inevitably open to
interpretation. The headline areas for enforcement are as
1) Olympic Marks
You cannot use images, logos, text or even colour schemes which
could be interpreted as having a link to the Olympics.
i) The Olympic symbol
(ie the five interlocking rings of the IOC) and anything so similar
to it as to be likely to create an association with it
(ii) The words:
'Olympic' or 'Olympics'
'Olympiad' or 'Olympiads'
'Olympian' or 'Olympians'
Including their translations and anything so similar to them as
to be likely to create an association with the Olympic Games or the
(iii) The Olympic motto
('Citius Altius Fortius'/'Faster Higher Stronger') including
translations of the motto and anything so similar to it as to be
likely to create an association with it.
2) The LOCOG checklist establishes whether any of the marks or
words in 1) have been used, whether it is in the course of trade,
do they have permission to use them and does the perpetrator have a
3) Infringing LOAR (London Olympic Associate
LOAR protects against someone creating an unauthorised association
with the London 2012.
Firstly, you may not use any two words in the black ring together
OR one word from the black ring and one or more from the red ring.
However, the use of such associative words must be considered in
context. If there is a cumulative effect of other related words,
imagery then an infringement may occur.
They even cite other terms or imagery which are likely to be
highly sensitive for determining a breach of LOAR. Clearly the more
which are used, the more likely it is that an association will be
- An Olympic-style torch/flame
- The five colours from the Olympic symbol
- Designs which reproduce or closely resemble the official
designs of the 2012 Games
- Images of venues associated with the 2012 Games
- Depiction of Olympic and/or Paralympic sports (especially when
multiple sports are presented)
- Words which capture the essence of the 2012 Games and/or
qualities associated with Olympism, (eg: "Spirit";
"Endeavour"; "Friendship"; "Winning"; "Determination")
- "XXX" or "30th" (the 2012 Games will be the Games of the XXX
Slipping through the net
It is fair to assume that World Cup is similarly
protected, yet we reported on no less than eight FMCG promotions on
our PromoWatch sister blog which were of a
football nature in and around the World Cup tournament. Obviously
none of these campaigns made direct reference to the World Cup,
images were of an extremely generic nature and headlines featured
tangential, or indirect associative wording relating to fans, cups,
football generically and the verb to shoot. Extreme care was taken
to avoid over-use of other associative terms with minimal
supporting images, whilst still creating an interactive, engaging
customer journey that had a correlation to the beautiful game
without being overt.
Lessons for London
Clearly anyone considering a sport-related campaign in the
run up to the Olympics needs to take every precaution to ensure
that they will not fall foul of the LOCOG legal team. Failure to do
so could be extremely costly. Generic terms like sport, activity,
energise, exert, compete, podium, exercise etc are likely to be
okay individually, but as LOCOG repeatedly stress, it's as much
about the context, cumulative effect and overall presentation of a
promotion which counts. If you have any doubts contact LOCOG Brand
Protection directly, or the IPM who have a
specialist legal advisory service
which can advise on all aspects of your promotion.