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Spirit of Bridport vs The Olympics

January 21, 2011

I like Bridport. It’s where I used to go on my family holidays. The local newspaper reports that they are planning to organise their own little Olympic festival there for 2012. I like the sound of it – artists, sport, environmentalism, education. According to the report LOCOG haven’t allowed them to use the word 2012 to describe what they’re doing – hence why it’s going to be called ‘spirit of Bridport’ and not The Magic Fantastic Bridport Olympics Festival or ‘Bridport 2012’ or whatnot. I saw this kind of thing coming ages ago. I also asked Tessa Jowell (The former Olympic Minister) if there would be a problem with community groups and non-profit interests associating with the Olympics at the Labour Party conference in 1997 – she asurred me that there wouldn’t be. Around that time it was also raised as a concern by the Olympic Games Select Committee. I was concerned because I thought over zealous ‘protection’ of the Olympic brand would get in the way of people being able to enjoy the games however they wanted. It also seemed wrong – LOCOG were then saying that these were the games that would ‘belong to everybody’. But now when I think about it – it doesn’t seem like such a big deal; people in Bridport won’t let the fact that they can’t use the world ‘Olympics’ get in the way of them having a good time and that’s a good thing.

These days I actually think the Olympics stands to lose more by not letting the people of Bridport use their name, than the people of Bridport lose by not being able to use it. I just simply don’t see how the people of Bridport using the word Olympics undermines the value of the Olympic brand. To me it’s like Adidas calling up Kanye West and telling him to cover up the stripes on his top in his video. Or it would be like TED (an organisation who rely on corporate partners) suing everyone who posts a TED video, instead of creating a satellite brand TEDx and letting people organise their own TEDx events. The Olympic brand protection policy is an anachronism and needs to be changed for their sake, not ours. I don’t have it to hand but Michael Payne (the IOCs marketing director in the 80s and 90s who created the modern sponsorship structures) almost says as much at the end of this book.

I do feel like this kind of a moan is not a productive use of energy, but figure it’s ok once in a while.


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