Pssst ... want to buy some chewing gum?

Mon Jul 30, 2012 10:12pm EDT
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By Belinda Goldsmith

LONDON (Reuters) - A crackdown by 'logo police' on brands being linked to the Olympics without official sponsorship rights is proving a challenge rather than hindrance for some companies who are relishing testing the limits.

London Games organizers have enforced strict rules to protect official trademarks and stop ambush marketing but have been accused of "lunacy" for ordering shops to remove sausages, flowers and bagels shaped as the Olympic rings.

Within the Olympic Park, sushi boxes come without soy sauce or wasabi as the vendors are unable to find sachets that do not feature brand logos.

Some food stalls are selling chocolate, chewing gum and savory snacks from under the counter as they cannot display items not produced by key sponsors.

Outside the park, companies are coming up with novel ways to piggyback on the Games without running foul of a 2006 British law that tightened protection for Olympic sponsors and has the clout of fines of 20,000 pounds ($30,000).

A glasses company has teased organizers over poor eyesight after a flag blunder, an off-license offered discounts to people with items from non-Olympic sponsors and a betting agency threatened legal action after being told to remove ads.

Rupert Pratt, managing director at sponsorship agency Generate, said the stunts could set a precedent for what brands can and cannot do to get around the Olympic rules.

"The Olympic movement does a fantastic job of scaremongering to protect its sponsors but the reality is that if you look at the ambushing rules there is a lot that can be done," Pratt told Reuters after a day watching diving at the Olympic Park.   Continued...