Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Plain packaging at the Olympics

This appears to have been a 'false flag', and apparently the police will on duty at the Olympics will not, after all, have to empty their crisp packs into clear plastic bags. As reported today in the Telegraph, the order was given by the chiefs of Thames Valley police to forces on the Olympic sites outside London, on the understanding that this would help to satisfy the sponsors that no one who wasn't sponsoring the Olympics was entitled to any 'trickle-down' free publicity. Imagine someone watching the Games on television in Budapest imagining that Thames Valley police were promoting Walkers' crisps or Ginstead pasties on their lunch breaks? unthinkable.

It turns out that Thames Valley police chiefs were being over-zealous. But isn't it a sign of the times when a crisp packet is viewed as advertising? This is a definition employed by anti-smokers in relation to tobacco and cigarette packets, even though actual advertising was banned over a decade ago.

Brand packaging is brand packaging: it isn't advertising, and I would have hoped that any company forced to forgo its branding for the Olympic Games would sue the sponsors. The idea that small traders should be expected to bury their instincts to capitalise on extra visitors to London in order to avoid committing the new crime of 'ambush marketing' is further evidence yet that the Games were never meant to be a boost to Londoners. Read more here.

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