Olympic Tracker: The Great Union Hi-Jack

WITH THE Olympic Games taking place in our own backyard this summer, official sponsors (and LOCOG) have been working to protect the rights they have invested in. 


Meanwhile, the rest of the brand universe seems to be trying to steal some of their ‘official turf’ and grab share of voice.


As London 2012 draws ever nearer there is one symbol, which isn’t protected, that brands have been jumping all over; the Union Jack.


Virgin Media may have been one of the first when it launched a new Union Jack-inspired version of its logo back in October 2011. Sponsors and non-sponsors alike are now using the flag more and more and with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee we saw the first major land grab in the battle to be British.


  • Marmite, a quintessentially British brand, changed its name to Ma’amite with a union jack label
  • Waitrose offered up street party fare in a Facebook competition to win all the necessities to your own street party
  • Fairy, an Olympic sponsor courtesy of P&G’s IOC relationship, ramped up its support of the festivities with an app helping to plan the perfect street party
  • Bread brand Kingsmill was renamed Queensmill
  • Pampers produced union jack nappies
  • M&M’s released a limited addition pack (“red, white and blues only”)
  • Even Old El Paso produced an outdoor and digital campaign complete with union jack bunting


So while Olympic sponsors and LOCOG look to protect themselves from ambush from non-official brands, the Queen and the Jubilee was left exposed to a plethora of activity.


Everybody it seems, from multi-national corporations to smaller, local enterprises capitalised on the event. This lack of control led to a wealth of unofficial merchandise and unapproved marketing – will LOCOG tolerate a similar lack of control?


With the Olympic Games starting next month, with what promises to be a very British-themed opening ceremony, we can expect more of the same as brands seek to establish themselves as the most patriotic in 2012.



By Nicholas Bruce

Follow Nicholas on Twitter: @nicholasbruce