The opening ceremony of the Olympic Games presents one of the greatest ever opportunities for brand promotion. So it was oddly refreshing to witness a non-commercial display on Friday. As host country however, Brand UK received maximum exposure from a parachuting HM Queen Elizabeth II and James Bond along with a speedboating David Beckham and a crooning Sir Paul McCartney.
Away from the official events, several brands did their best to ensure they were not left out of the party. After all, and as we're told so frequently by the media, the Games is for everyone [and funded by everyone, or at least everyone who pays tax in Britain - Merpel]. Tip of the hat to all those who brought these anti-ambush marketing stories to the IPKat's attention and special mention to Lee Curtis for compiling the links so neatly.
After ordering the removal of Paddy Power's advertisements from billboards, LOCOG eventually decided the odds were not in its favour and decided to "monitor the situation" instead [perhaps it was the threatened counterclaim by Paddy Power to seek a High Court declaration of non-infringement for all current and future advertisements which persuaded LOCOG].
Nike also ran with the idea of using geographically identical place names in its video advertisement. The "Find your Greatness" [or to everyone else the "we're getting as close as-possible-to-the-Olympics-without-actually-breaking-the-rules"] campaign features normal athletes from places called London around the world. And it turns out that there are quite a few, though the number of people who will associate the word with anything other than the host city of the Games after watching the video can be counted with one paw.
Also picking up the baton is Oddbins, the British wine and alcohol retailer. Clearly incensed at the Games' sponsorship rules, its managing director issued a statement so full of vitriol a summary could hardly do it justice:
"...thanks to LOCOG... any business without the tens of millions of pounds required to join the cabal of multinational brand partners for the Games are reduced to the status of beggars on the gilded streets of the Olympic movement.
We have taken steps to ensure our planned window displays do not flout any of these asinine rules, but we are doing this primarily to highlight the absurdity of the fact that the British people - who are paying for these games - are at the same time being subject to ridiculous rules. Even though our window designs will be within the rules, we would not be surprised if LOCOG goes loco".
"It is about time the greatest sporting event on the planet was not sponsored by fast food companies, sugary fizzy drinks producers or monolithic multi-national brewers. A burger, can of fizzy pop and an industrial lager are not the most ideal preparation for the steeple chase or the dressage (for human or horse)".