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London 2012: Coe defends enforcement of brand rules to 'protect' sponsors

Category: England

Published: 20th Jul 2012 12:03:19

Lord Coe has defended 2012 Olympics branding rules, which he admitted could see spectators banned from wearing Pepsi T-shirts and other items.

Coca-Cola is a "global partner" of the games, said Lord Coe, and the huge sums it and other sponsors had invested had to be "protected".

But he played down suggestions by the BBC's Evan Davis that the ban might even extend to footwear.

Spectators would "probably" not be asked to remove non-Adidas trainers.

London 2012 hope to raise £2bn from Adidas and other UK sponsors.

Critics have said the enforcement of branding rules at the Beijing Olympics was too heavy-handed and have called for a relaxation in the approach for the London Games, which begin in a week's time.

One MP has called for British firms and other suppliers to be allowed to sell their beer in Olympic venues, arguing it would give a boost to the UK economy.

Under International Olympic Committee (IOC) rules, tier one "worldwide partners" - such as McDonald's and Coca-Cola - get sole global marketing rights within their sector, including being able to sell their products and services exclusively within Olympic venues.

Firms such as Adidas, British Airways and Lloyds TSB are 2012 Olympic partners, granting them exclusive marketing rights within their product sector in the UK.

Other 2012 supporters and suppliers with exclusive contracts include Heineken, Cadbury and Deloitte.

In an interview on the Today programme, Lord Coe said London Organising Committee (Locog) had to raise a "mountainous" amount of money - some £2bn - through sponsorship and broadcasting rights. The more money generated from the private sector, he said, the lower the bill for the taxpayer for the Games.

"When you have big British businesses that are prepared to really invest in the Games, you have the responsibility to protect them," he said.

"We have to protect the rights of our sponsors because they, in large part, pay for the Games. They do more than that, of course. They help us meet our legacy targets."

Presenter Evan Davis asked Lord Coe whether he could, for example, attend an Olympic event wearing a Pepsi t-shirt.

"No, you probably would not be walking in with a Pepsi T-shirt because Coca-Cola are our sponsors," he replied, adding that Coca-Cola had invested millions of pounds both in the Games and grass-roots sport.

In an increasingly testy exchange, the BBC presenter then quizzed Lord Coe on whether he could "go in with Nike trainers on?".

"I think you probably could...Let's sort of put some reality in this. You probably would be able to walk through with Nike trainers. Does that satisfy you?"

After Mr Davis said that it didn't but that he intended to move onto another subject, Lord Coe told the BBC presenter "keep going Evan, we will get here eventually."

But Lord Coe said suggestions that police officers would not be allowed to eat crisps from Walkers packets and would have to transfer them to clear, unbranded bags, were not an "accurate portrayal".

"We are slightly in the territory of straight bananas and other things," he added, a reference to scare stories about petty EU rules on fruit and vegetables.

Under IOC rules, there are also restrictions about advertising in areas adjacent to Games venues, in part to prevent "ambush marketing" by firms which are not sponsors.

Traders require authorisation from Locog to operate at 27 "event zones" - public areas stretching about 200 metres from stadiums and sports facilities.

Locog has insisted that "business as usual" advertising, such as shop signs and in-store advertising will not be affected.

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BBC News, 2012. London 2012: Coe defends enforcement of brand rules to 'protect' sponsors [Online] (Updated 20th Jul 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1441761/London-2012-Coe-defends-enforcement-of-brand-rules-to-protect-sponsors [Accessed 23rd Apr 2014]

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