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BM_ES2By Elizabeth Sparrow, Managing Director – Blabbermouth

With the Olympics visiting London this month we found ourselves in the midst of athletic fever pitch, however, this rare event posed some troublesome issues for marketers. Any advert or promotion that created an association, of any type, with the London games would have likely been in breach of the guidelines and so could have resulted in an injunction, pursuit of damages, and the removal of related profits. The subtlest references or even a play on certain words could have been treated as an infringement. Words, mottos, mascots and related symbols were all forbidden unless you were an official sponsor and had coughed up the £40 million price tag.

You may have considered your marketing harmless however it would of been naive not to check the rules before pressing send on any advertisement or e-shot. With hundreds of people recruited to catch you out and impose a £20,000 fine it inevitably put companies in a tricky position, how did you know for certain what is or is not acceptable? For instance, if you were to include the word ‘summer’ and ‘2012’ in the same advertisement your intentions were likely to be called into question. So, we were left questioning, are the rules a little over zealous? And, are they designed as yet another method to generate money for the giant Olympic pot?

However, with the 2012 Olympics being the first truly digital event, as predicted some companies turned to ambush tactics to gain positioning as unofficial sponsors. As seen with Nike’s “Find Your Greatness” viral campaign, the power of social media meant Nike was outperform official sponsor Adidas in social engagement.

Guerilla marketing is undeniably effective but also highly damaging as it can affect the events ability to attract future sponsors; hosting the Olympics costs a pretty penny. Yet, I can’t help but feel a little cold over the heavy-handed tactics employed to protect it.