How the Olympics privatised your mouth

With the Olympic Games coming to London this summer, Alex Hern covers the slightly overbearing brand protection employed by LOCOG. Just don’t say 2012...


The Olympics is notorious for its brand protection; the value of sponsorship runs into billions of pounds, and no-one is allowed to put that at risk, writes Alex Hern

For the most part, those protections will only affect some unlucky shopkeepers in the Stratford area who will be forced to scale back some of their hoardings…

But some protections go a bit further.

Schedule 4, chapter 3 of the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006 details the specific expressions which are deemed to suggest to the public that there is a specific relationship to the London Olympics, and it is rather broad.

The verboten phrases are any containing something from the first group with something from the second:

(3) The following expressions form the first group for the purposes of sub-paragraph (2)—

(a) “games”,

(b) “Two Thousand and Twelve”,

(c) “2012”, and

(d) “twenty twelve”.

(4) The following expressions form the second group for the purposes of sub-paragraph (2)—

(a) gold,

(b) silver,

(c) bronze,

(d) London,

(e) medals,

(f) sponsor, and

(g) summer.

Some of these combinations look fair – “London 2012”, for instance, probably brings to mind the Olympics. Others, not so much.

Want to promote something happening in “Summer 2012”? You should probably rephrase that. “August 2012” ought to be fine. And if you’re running a school sports day, you can give out medals, but you probably shouldn’t call it “school games” if you do – that might be a bit too far.

Going beyond the primary leglislation reveals yet more terms which one ought to steer clear of. The brand protection guidance (pdf) issued by LOCOG reveals that the words “javelin” and “2012” are protected trademarks.

Diamond Geezer suggests some helpful alternatives (colourful bullet points his):

Instead of “Today is January 3rd 2012” say “Today is three days after 2011.”

Instead of signing legal documents “03/01/2012” write “03/01/12”

Instead of “My baby is due in June 2012” say “I’m having a baby in a special year, I am very blessed.”

Instead of “Do you have any 2012 tickets?” say “Do you have any Inspirational National Event tickets?”

Instead of “2012 is turning out to be a shit year already” say “I think I’ll just pop down to John Lewis and buy a cuddly Mandeville.”

This legislation is six years old, so the blame for the overbearing protection of an international brand falls squarely at the feet of the last government.

Hopefully those in charge of enforcing the 2006 Olypmic games act legislation concerning the August sporting jamboree in the year 2012 twelve months to come focus on what really matters – winning gold medals shiny bits of metal.

See also:

Sports minister: School sport “nothing to do with me… but the School Games are”Shamik Das, December 15th 2011

A toxic cloud over London 2012Barry Gardiner MP, November 4th 2011

How we sold off the right to protest to the one per centAlex Hern, November 3rd 2011

Boris fiddles as London prepares for transport chaosAlex Hern, October 19th 2011

Here’s what Boris didn’t say…Alex Hern, October 4th 2011

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19 Responses to “How the Olympics privatised your mouth”

  1. Patron Press - #P2

    #UK : How the Olympics privatised your mouth

  2. Duncan Stott

    “@leftfootfwd: How the Olympics privatised your mouth: by @alexhern #London2012” Entertaining article, weird headline.

  3. Alex Deane

    How the Olympics privatised your mouth: by @alexhern #London2012

  4. leftlinks

    Left Foot Forward – How the Olympics privatised your mouth

  5. jo abbess

    RT @leftfootfwd: How the Olympics privatised your mouth

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