Tough penalties await companies that take the name of the Stratford (and satellites) International Sports Festival in vain – or, indeed, misuse a range of festival-related terms in their advertising and PR copy.
With the programme for the British Capital 2013 (minus 1) Frolics set to kick off just 10 days hence, the BBC today carried a warning to business that even some quite common English words such as ‘gold’ and ‘medal’ could in the wrong context land the speaker in hot water.
Even more sinister is that the copyright clampdown is enshrined in legislation passed by that great bastion of Free Speech, the Mother of Parliaments.
Behind this anomaly is the fact that ‘SISF’ is the latest manifestation of a huge global brand in its own right, and it relies on enormous sponsorship support from massive international commercial brands. Big brands demand protection, and legislation is the strictest control.
Given the enormity of the occasion, it’s not unreasonable to expect additional protection for logos and other symbols so that they cannot be used, for example, on this article. But it’s a grey area when words taken from plain English are scooped into the copyright net.
The legislation has also effectively gagged many companies that have supplied materials and services essential to the overall project. Normally, many of these suppliers would already have been using their involvement in such a major project to fuel their PR and advertising. Will they be ungagged automatically after the event, or will we need Freedom of Information-type disclosures to discover which manufacturer supplied which building materials?
In reality there’s just a thin line between sponsorship and censorship. And it’s being pulled tight round the ‘SISF’ fundamental: sportsmanship.
What do you think?
David Goddin was born in the UK and educated in South Africa. He began his career on daily newspapers and trade journals, before moving into public relations consulting. He produced award-winning writing and became an Accredited PR Practitioner, the highest qualification of the Public Relations Institute of South Africa. Since his return to the UK 17 years ago he has also contributed to a number of highly successful PR and marketing communications campaigns for major national and multinational clients. He is currently also President of the Haslemere & District Chamber of Trade & Commerce.