Friday 3 August 2012

Update: Newham Council Jumps On Olympic Brandwagon

Whatever the sporting achievements this summer, it is certain that we will remember the 2012 Olympics for the extraordinary lengths that London organisers have gone to in oppressively protecting the brands of its corporate sponsors. Even Michael Payne, the former marketing director at the International Olympic Committee who devised the rules to prevent 'ambush marketing, has said “the controls and protections have gone too far”. LOCOG chair Lord Coe has insisted that he has a responsibility to protect the commercial "rights of sponsors" but managed to create even more confusion about what kind of t-shirt and trainers were acceptable for a visitor to wear inside the Olympic Park.

This bring us back to the banning of Community Legal Observers from Stratford Park. As I noted on Monday, Newham council security guards had accused Newham Monitoring Project voluneers of handing out material that was "making it easy for criminals and giving them tips". Later that day, the council's Head of Events Sue Meiners came down to the park in person to offer a new justification for excluding the legal observers: the accusation that they  would cause littering by handing out legal rights cards.

Now the local authority has cobbled together a new explanation, one that Lord Coe and the Olympic brand enforcers would be proud of. In an e-mail to NMP, Newham's Head of Communications Douglas Trainer (who some may recognise as a New Labour former NUS President) claims that a community event in a public park has been designated a 'corporate event' and as a result, the council does not allow organisations "to come into the park with a branded presence - including the wearing of branded shirts or bibs."

If this were true, you would imagine Trainer's colleague Sue Meiners might have mentioned it on Monday. Having lived and worked in Newham for over two decades, I'd add that if this were true, it has been applied so inconsistently over the years that it's likely to cause as much confusion as Coe's own pronouncements on 'branded t-shirts'. Instead, what it looks suspiciously like is a really poor excuse, one targeted specifically at volunteers who have given up their spare time to provide an important service to local communities.

In its public response to the council, Newham Monitoring Project says:
There has been much debate about the rules used to protect corporate brands during the Olympics and we are genuinely surprised that the council would adopt and enforce similar rules against its own citizens, especially those who are volunteering for a local not-for-profit group with charitable aims.
Quite so. We can add this to the growing list of unlikely Olympic legacies: Newham council borrowing from LOCOG to oppressively protect a brand - its own - in local public spaces.


Citizen T said...

No branded bibs... Does that go for St John's Ambulance volunteers as well then?

Anonymous said...

Broadcasting house

Interesting article

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