Is 2012 the summer of red tape for online PR?

Is 2012 the summer of red tape for online PR?

John Craske

John Craske

The long-awaited summer of 2012 is almost here. With so many things happening on our little island including the summer games, you’d think that PR consultants up and down the country would be rubbing their hands with Olympic-themed glee. But you’d be wrong.

Instead of producing fertile ground for PR-able content and campaigns, the games come with large, “Private Property – Keep Out” signs attached. Case in point: Locog (London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games) has been signing agreements with Twitter and FourSquare to prevent brands who are not official sponsors from cashing in on the London 2012 name.

However, it looks like these tight guidelines may not be safeguarding the London 2012 brand as much as the organisers would like. Despite not being an official sponsor, Nike’s efforts have nevertheless enabled them to dominate online conversations around London 2012. According to Digital Agency, Jam, 7.7% of conversations about the Olympics is attributed to Nike, while Adidas – who paid a reported £100m to be the official sponsor of the games – received just 0.48% share of online conversations from the period 1 December 2011 to 7 February 2012.

Nike has managed to cleverly sidestep Logog rules with the Make It Count campaign, pulling in Olympic heavyweights Paula Radcliffe, Mark Cavendish and others. With the hashtag, ‘#makeitcount’, the campaign does more than suggest an alliance with the games through the combination of sport, the UK and the aforementioned Olympic celebs. The campaign kicked off with a video posted on New Year’s Eve 2011 asking, “How will you make 2012 count?”  This, following on from Nike’s accidental success through social media in the 2010 World Cup, should have sports marketing types having a re-think.

And it’s not just brands who are banned from mentioning London 2012. If you were hoping for some leaked backstage photos of Tom Daley eating a packet of Quavers, you are going to be disappointed. Locog has banned their 70,000-strong army of “Game Makers” (volunteers) from posting any information or photos from backstage at the games.

Despite many brands being affected during the summer games and beyond, it seems that Locog is not wanting to play ball and allow these brands (or its own volunteers) to share games-related information over social media platforms. While it is understandable that – like any brand – Locog will want to protect the London 2012 name, perhaps the committee is taking more than it’s giving. The media seem obsessed with churning out stories about how London and the wider area will be affected by the games in the summer – with overcrowded public transport, blocked-off roads and a flock of confused tourists heading to streets near us soon – what exactly will the Olympics bring to brands? Not even a tweet, it seems.

With all these limitations, Locog is trying to police the un-policeable – the digital sphere. It remains to be seen how Locog will deal with inevitable rule-breakers and what this will mean for future digital media campaigns.

For more information on what can and cannot be said regarding the London 2012 games, have a look at the official guidelines here: http://www.london2012.com/about-us/our-brand/using-the-brand.php

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Discussion

  1. Who’d have thought Nike had such a big share? Most of my Olympics-themed conversations revolved around Ab Fab.

    Also, nothing, NOTHING, is going to stop tabloids getting their photos of Tom Daley!

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