Advertisers lobby against Olympics Bill

Out-Law News | 22 Dec 2005 | 2:44 pm | 1 min. read

Two advertising trade groups have sent letters to the Minister for Sport, Richard Caborn MP, expressing concerns over advertising restrictions that will soon be in place as part of the preparations for the 2012 London Olympic Games.

The concerns of the Advertising Association (AA) and the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), relate to the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Bill (formerly known as the London Olympics Bill), which is currently before Parliament.

Part of this bill seeks to prevent any business making reference to the 2012 Olympics in its promotions, unless it is an official sponsor. This is apparently required by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and is an attempt to control ambush marketing – where one brand pays to sponsor an event and a rival brand attempts to associate itself with the event without being an official sponsor.

In general terms, the bill restricts the use of the words “games”, “Two Thousand and Twelve”, “2012”, and “twenty twelve” in combination with each other or in combination with words including “gold,” “silver”, “bronze”, “London” and “summer”. These restrictions will take effect next spring and last for six-and-a-half years.

The advertisers are also concerned that the Bill reverses the standard presumption of innocence – by presuming advertisers guilty unless and until they can demonstrate they are not associating with the Games.

The letters sent by the AA and IPA question the Government’s strategy. They say that the Organising Committee for the Turin Games 2006 has met its marketing revenue target, and the Organising Committees for both the Beijing and Vancouver Games have exceeded their marketing revenue targets, without introducing such legislation.

“This shows that that it is unlikely that potential sponsors will be put off from sponsoring the London Olympics if the restrictions do not come into place immediately,” said Hamish Pringle, Director General of the IPA.

“The Government’s case – which rests solely on the need to have legislation in place so as to be able to sign up sponsors next year – lacks proportionality,” he added.

The IPA and AA say that, though they support the need to protect sponsors through rules to prevent ambush marketing around the Games, the early introduction of this legislation is flawed and unwarranted. They argue that sufficient protections already exist under existing laws.