Alongside any major sporting occasion these days comes unlimited scope for marketing opportunities. Or does it?
Under new legislation introduced specifically for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games of 2014, ambush marketing, street vending, ticket touts and general advertising within the vicinity of the Games will all be outlawed. Fines of up to £20,000 will be imposed, and it will not be a defence that a licence was granted prior to the legislation's enactment.
Glasgow's Games' bid included a commitment by the Scottish Government to prohibit ambush marketing. Accordingly, a Commonwealth Games Bill was introduced in early November and from now, up until 21 December 2007, anyone is invited to submit a view to the Scottish Parliament (where the Bill now resides) in writing on the content of the Bill.
Ambush marketing is a planned attempt by a third party to associate itself with an event, implying an authorised association with the event where there is none. This is generally at the expense of another's authorised association. Examples of ambush marketing include Pepsi's hot-air balloon over Wembley during a Coca-Cola sponsored cup final; Linford Christie's Puma contact lenses at a press conference at the Atlanta Olympics putting Reebok's $40 million outlay somewhat in the shade; (perhaps the greatest coup in "ambush marketing" came at in Atlanta 1996, when Nike bought a vast number of billboards around Olympic sites); and in the run-up to Athens 2004, an estimated $750,000 was spent on clearing thousands of billboards from buildings and rooftops around Athens - and reserving those near stadiums for the main sponsors.
While some see this as unfair suppression of enterprise, sponsors forking out for high-profile advertising space will doubtless be expecting protection of their significant investment. Certainly without guaranteeing that exclusivity, it is harder for organisers to play competitive sponsors off against each other. The high levels of exposure now afforded to sports sponsors of a main event – particularly when it comes to internet coverage – means companies will pay handsomely for the association.
Respondents to the Scottish Government's initial consultation process included Ebay, the Advertising Association and the Scottish Daily Newspaper Society, and one individual calling for a bilingual corporate image (Gaelic, as you ask).
It is argued by advertisers that sufficient legislation already exists to cover copyright, trade marks and passing-off. They contend that such legislation gives unparalleled power to event holders, pushing up the price of sponsorship and thus preventing ordinary smaller businesses from benefiting at all from major events. So it appears unlikely that routes to Glasgow's stadia will be lined with men selling felt hats with jangly bells on, or flags bearing Lions Rampant – unless they're wearing Nikes.
Meanwhile, similar legislation is being drafted for the Antipodean 2011 Rugby and 2015 Cricket World Cups, as well as London's Olympic Games in 2012. One rumour circulating suggests that the words 'gold', 'silver' and 'bronze' will all be forbidden to advertisers during the London games.
To read the Commonwealth Games Bill responses click here
Click here to access the current version of the Bill.