LEGAL firm, Miller Hendry, have today issued a stark warning to Tayside businesses to beware of the pitfalls of jumping on the Olympic marketing bandwagon.
Alan Matthew, partner with Miller Hendry in Dundee, said: “Over the next seventeen days, many businesses and organisations will wish to take advantage of the incredible hype surrounding the Olympic Games by running Olympic-related promotions, advertising campaigns and events. But before they do they need to make sure they are fully aware of what is, and what is not, permitted to ensure they are not falling foul of the law.”
Use of the Olympic brand is strictly controlled by the London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG) and, says experts from Miller Hendry, local businesses wishing to associate themselves in any way with the Olympics should be aware that there are restrictions on what they can and cannot do.
Use of the Olympic symbol and all of the official branding associated with the Olympic and Paralympic Games, including certain words, phrases and mottoes, is regulated by law. As such, only official commercial sponsors and partners of the Games are allowed to use the Olympic brand.
It is therefore unlawful to use the Olympic symbol or any of the official branding in the course of trade or for any commercial or fund-raising purposes without the written consent of LOCOG and the fines for breaking the law can extend to as much as £20,000 and, in certain circumstances, a jail sentence.
Businesses and organisations cannot, therefore, use any of the official Olympic branding on any advertising or promotional material or on any of their products. It is also unlawful to falsely represent any association or affiliation with the Olympics.
“This is potentially a significant commercial risk to small businesses wishing to run Olympic themed promotions during the events and LOCOG have already confirmed they have 300 trading standards officers across the UK poised to police this aspect of the Games in order to protect their big name sponsors,” said Alan Matthew.
Another area which is likely to affect a lot of small businesses, particularly pubs, bars, lounges and hotels who wish to attract people to watch the Games from their premises, concerns the screening and advertising of Olympic Events.
For businesses close to the Olympic Venues additional regulations have been put in place to regulate advertising and trading in the area.
So with all these restrictions, what can local businesses do to make the most of the Games?
“Businesses and organisations are entitled to show support and enthusiasm for the Games so long as this is done in a way which does not associate promotion of the business or organisation with the Games,” said Alan.
He continued: “For example businesses can display flags or national colours to show support for home or visiting nations, or holding an office party to celebrate the Olympics. If you are in doubt as to whether your advertising, display or event is in breach of the regulations we would suggest that you seek further legal advice.”
For those who have already fallen foul of the legislation, inadvertently or not, he issues the following advice:
“Withdraw the relevant material or products immediately. So far, LOCOG’s general approach to unauthorised use of the Olympic brand has been to approach the business or organisation in question and request them to rectify the problem. If you are approached by LOCOG and asked to remove Olympic related advertising or products, or to cancel an Olympic related event, we would suggest that you do so and apologise unreservedly for the error.
“If you refuse, LOCOG may take legal steps to protect their rights and this could result in a financial penalty for your business or organisation. If you feel that you are not in breach of the regulations we would still recommend that you comply with LOCOG’s request in the first instance and seek further legal advice.”