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Olympic ‘Brand Police’ Are Monitoring What You Say, See and Eat

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Posted on Jul 16, 2012
Photo by David Holt (CC-BY-SA)

The Olympics generate a fortune from sponsorships and exclusive deals, and to make sure no one gets in on the action for free, a uniformed force of advert cops has been empowered to patrol the streets of London. Get this: At the London Games, it’s illegal to serve chips.

That would be because McDonald’s and its American-style fries have secured the heart-attack rights.

Here are some of the outrageous restrictions, as reported by The Independent, that could result in up to £20,000 ($31,000) in fines:

Olympics organisers have warned businesses that during London 2012 their advertising should not include a list of banned words, including “gold”, “silver” and “bronze”, “summer”, “sponsors” and “London”.

Publicans have been advised that blackboards advertising live TV coverage must not refer to beer brands or brewers without an Olympics deal, while caterers and restaurateurs have been told not to advertise dishes that could be construed as having an association with the event.

According to The Independent, only 8 percent of the budget for this year’s Games is coming from sponsorship money. That means the public is on the hook for most of the £11.4 billion ($17.8 billion). Surely British taxpayers should be able to eat any fried potato that pleases them, or, heaven forbid, acknowledge the most significant event in their country in the form of advertising.

(Thanks to Dave Zirin for highlighting this story.)

—Posted by Peter Z. Scheer

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