Let the ambush commence!

With the opening ceremony just one day away, the Olympic-themed advertising is hotting up, even from brands who are not the official sponsors

With the opening ceremony just one day away, the Olympic-themed advertising is hotting up, even from brands who are not the official sponsors…

As has been much reported, LOCOG is being super-vigilant for London 2012 about other brands infringing on the official sponsors’ rights, and is quick to fine those that do. The commercial limitations for non-sponsors extend to use of the logo, the Olympic rings, and even words such as ‘Olympic’ and ‘London 2012′, so the options for ambush are limited.

So much so, in fact, that two entirely different brands have this week launched covert Olympic campaigns based on the same concept, of using other cities called London in their ads.

Via telegraph.co.uk/Twitter

Online gambling website Paddy Power launched an outdoor campaign featuring posters claiming that the site was an ‘official sponsor of the largest athletics event in London this year!’ before adding in brackets, ‘ahem, London France that is’.

Paddy Power challenged a request from LOCOG to remove the posters, and won, which must come as good news to Nike, who has also released an elegant TV spot this week (shown, top), showing sportsmen and women competing in events in various Londons around the world, but never London, England of course, before ending with the tag ‘Find Your Greatness’. While clearly referencing the forthcoming Olympics, the spot skirts around LOCOG’s commercial conditions, to avoid any actual infringement.

Both Nike and Paddy Power have form in this area, from previous major sporting events. For the Fifa World Cup 2010, Nike stole the marketing show from official sponsor Adidas with its epic ‘Write the Future‘ spot, which proved a phenomenal success with audiences.

And Paddy Power, in somewhat less elegant style, ambushed Euro 2012 via Denmark player Nicklas Bendtner who flashed his ‘lucky underpants‘, featuring the brand’s logo, during a match against Portugal. Bendtner was consequently banned for one competitive fixture and fined £80K, which was paid by Paddy Power.

Oddbins has tackled the Olympic advertising restrictions head on recently, with a campaign offering discounts to customers that come into its stores wearing products from non-Olympic sponsors. It has also produced a series of posters which cover the word ‘Olympics’ with a censored stamp, and judging by the positive reception they’ve received on Twitter etc, Oddbins has judged the public mood regarding the official sponsors well.

It’s odd times indeed when brands can take the role of rebels and be successful, but hopefully this might lead to other companies creating inventive ambush campaigns during the Games themselves. The trick to winning audiences’ respect though, is to be clever and funny, and not simply to try and shove your logo in front of a passing BBC camera. And remember, LOCOG will always be watching….


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CR in Print
The August Olympic Special issue of Creative Review contains a series of features that explore the past and present of the Games to mark the opening of London 2012: Adrian Shaughnessy reappraises Wolff Olins’ 2012 logo, Patrick Burgoyne talks to LOCOG’s Greg Nugent about how Wolff Olins’ original brand identity has been transformed into one consistent look for 2012, Eliza Williams investigates the role of sponsorship by global brands of the Games, Mark Sinclair asks Ian McLaren what it was like working with Otl Aicher as amember of his 1972 Munich Olympics design studio, Swiss designer Markus Osterwalder shows off some of his prize Olympic items from his vast archive, and more.

Plus, Rick Poynor’s assessment of this year’s Recontres d’Arles photography festival and Michael Evamy on the genius of Yusaku Kamekura’s emblem for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

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