Olympics advertising rules for England in force

Out-Law News | 09 Dec 2011 | 1:18 pm | 2 min. read

New restrictions on Olympics advertising have come into force in England putting in place rules to combat ambush marketing campaigns and other exploitations of the Olympics and Paralympics brands.

The London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (Advertising and Trading) (England) Regulations generally prohibit people advertising or engaging in street trade in set "event zones" during the period of an event unless authorised to do so by the London Organising Committee (LOCOG). The Regulations came into effect on 2 December and apply until the end of 11 September 2012.

The rules stop those who have not paid to sponsor the Games from advertising near venues or associating their adverts or products or services with the Games.

The rules stop companies or people either engaging or arranging advertising during the set times and in the set zones if the advertising "relates to a good, service, business or other concern in which the person has an interest or for which the person is responsible, or takes place on land, premises or other property that the person owns or occupies or of which the person has responsibility for the management".

Exceptions to that rule apply if advertising is contained as part of legitimate demonstrations, such as to publicise beliefs or mark a commemoration, providing those demonstrations do not involve the promotion or advertisement of goods, services, a person or body if those people and bodies provide goods or services. Those rules do not apply to no-for-profit organisations.

Further exceptions allow people to display brands on their body or personal property, or wear branded clothing, "unless the individual knows or has reasonable cause to believe that he or she is participating in an ambush marketing campaign".

An 'ambush marketing campaign', in which advertising is undertaken without payment to the Olympics, is prohibited under the new laws. The practice refers to one or more acts "intended specifically to advertise" goods, services or a person providing goods or services "in an event zone during the relevant event period or periods".

The Regulations also set out rules on advertising that appears on personal communication devices, such as mobile phones. Advertisers will be allowed to display ads to individuals via those devices but are prohibited from doing so if they intend "the advertisement to be displayed, by means of the device, to the public at large".

Unauthorised displays of advertising on animals or where animals display or carry advertising "apparatus" is also prohibited in the event zones during the set times under the new Regulations.

"Official partners of the Olympic and Paralympic Games pay millions of pounds for an exclusive right to associate with the Games in their particular business arena," Claire McCracken, lawyer at Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said. "Major sporting events inevitably attract the practice of ambush marketing, with the result that competitors’ brands often gain more publicity at events than those of the official sponsors."

"The London Organising Committee had to demonstrate to the IOC and the official partners that there are sufficient measures in place to combat ambush marketing threats," she said. "These regulations complement the legislation already passed and aim to control ambush marketing and street trading in clearly defined event zones for the duration of the Games.  I expect these areas to be effectively ‘policed’ by the authorities during the Games."

Under the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act the Government is legally obliged to create new regulations on advertising and street trading "in the vicinity of London Olympic events". The regulations must specify the period of time the restrictions on those activities apply. Separate Olympics advertising and trading regulations are expected to be published for Scotland and Wales, where some Olympics events will take place next year.