There is a crackdown taking place in London right now, and we're not talking about the thousands of troops deployed to secure the city in preparation of the 2012 Olympic Games.
We're talking about the "brand police" — hundreds of workers for the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) and the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) employed to seek and penalize businesses that use unauthorized variations of the Olympic brand and its logos.
That could range from Olympic-themed drink specials at pubs to counterfeit merchandise sold on the street.
"The London 2012 brand is also vital to the funding of the Games and is the London 2012 Organising Committee's most valuable asset. To ensure we maintain both the emotional and commercial value of the brand, we need to carefully control its use and prevent its unauthorised exploitation," LOCOG's website states.
Official sponsors like Adidas, McDonald's, Coca-Cola, BP and Proctor & Gamble are the only companies entitled to use the London 2012 brand. The "brand police" are now patrolling for violations by businesses from restaurants to media outlets, in the biggest brand protection operation staged in the UK, according to the Independent.
Among the marks and words that are off-limits to anyone except commercial partners, sponsors, suppliers and licensees are the Olympic symbol, the Paralympic symbol, the London 2012 mascots, the words "London 2012", "Olympic", "Olympiad", "Olympian", "Paralympic" "Summer", "Medals", "Gold", "Silver", "Bronze" and the Olympic Motto: "Citius Altius."
The LOCOG has made it clear that uniformed enforcement officers will be on the lookout for "ambush marketing," which it describes as a business’ attempt to attach itself to a major event without paying sponsorship fees.
"Where we are made aware of ambush marketing of the Games and/or other unauthorised uses of the Games' Marks, we must always seek to bring the infringement to an end," the LOCOG states.
The Independent offers examples of advertisements that would be banned and those that are permitted under the LOCOG's enforcement:
ALLOWED – Stratford Mansions. 1 & 2 bedroom flats, £220,000 to £350,000; 5 minutes’ walk to Stratford International Station; next to Olympic Park; 15 minutes commute to Canary Wharf.
BANNED – Simplefields Homes. An Olympic investment not to be missed! 1 and 2 bedroom flats, luxurious fittings, 5 minutes’ walk to Stratford International Station
ALLOWED: A blackboard sign outside the Red Lion saying: ‘Watch the Olympic Games here with a cold beer… Live coverage all day.’
BANNED: Brewer’s posters displayed outside the Red Lion with the message: Grogglington’s Bitter: Watch the Olympics here’