If you aren’t Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Visa, or one of eight other companies that shelled out a combined $1.1 billion to become an official global sponsor of the 2012 Summer Games, it’s going to be mighty hard to sell your products in London this August. As a part of its bid to host the event, the British capital has agreed to set up “brand exclusion zones” around many event locations. These areas, the largest of which is a one kilometer circle around the newly constructed Olympic Park, will be off limits to non-sponsors – that means no freebies and no advertising of any sort. Local media has even been mandated to ignore marketing stunts: “If someone tries to fly over the event in a hot air balloon, the media have been told not to cover it.” To help with policing the zones, the London Organising Committee has gathered 100 “brand production volunteers”, and has a team of 20 legal experts on call.
Going even further, local businesses are being told they cannot display the Olympic rings. These rules are less than pleasing to large companies and London shopkeeps alike, but the situation raises an interesting question: What is exclusivity worth?
For me, at least, $1.1 billion is more than enough.