Olympics Can't Hire Enough Actual Security, But Fully Staffed With 'Brand Police'

from the that'll-work dept

We’ve talked about how the Olympics are so focused on hiding any non-sponsor brand that they had officials in Beijing during the last Olympics tape over bathroom fixtures from non-sponsoring companies. And it was clear that this same sort of activity was set to continue this time around in London, including a specific law against “ambush marketing.”

You may have heard the reports in London about the terrible security for the London Olympics that has left things in “absolute chaos,” due to a failure to hire enough security personnel. In fact, there’s talk of soldiers having to be called in to help. Given all that, it’s interesting to find out that the Olympics do have a fully-staffed “brand police” force, which is heading around the city to carefully block any non-sponsor brands, and try to track down and kill off any kind of unpaid-for marketing.

Almost 300 enforcement officers will be seen across the country checking firms to ensure they are not staging “ambush marketing” or illegally associating themselves with the Games at the expense of official sponsors such as Adidas, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and BP….

Wearing purple caps and tops, the experts in trading and advertising working for the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) are heading the biggest brand protection operation staged in the UK. Under legislation specially introduced for the London Games, they have the right to enter shops and offices and bring court action with fines of up to £20,000.

So, if a terrorist attack happens to hit London over the next few weeks, at least we’ll know that it wasn’t sponsored by some non-paying brand.

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Companies: adidas, bp, coca cola, mcdonald's

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Comments on “Olympics Can't Hire Enough Actual Security, But Fully Staffed With 'Brand Police'”

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Anonymous Coward says:


There was a funny story on NPR about how since McDonalds is the official heart attack provider for the Olympics, only McDonald’s french fries (chips) are allowed to be served at the Olympic sites. But the exception is if you’re buying fish and chips. So, you can’t sell chips, unless you have some fish in there as well.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: All the King's horses and all the King's men []

They have some 13,500 military personnel on security duty anyway

And with all the King’s horses and all the King’s men… …they still can’t patrol the LIBOR.


( That’s a laughable complaint, you say? The military brutes could not possibly be educated enough to understand high finance! )

nospacesorspecialcharacters (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Same here, years ago I made a personal commitment to avoid buying any brands that sponsor the Olympics. Not that I buy a lot of junk food or sports clothes but when I do, I make sure it’s NOT an Olympic sponsor.

Just doing my bit… One day I’d like to see being an Olympic sponsor something of a poison chalice linked to lost sales. Perhaps then the Trademark Marximalists will be kicked out.

The Olympics is supposed to be about sporting achievements, not sponsorship achievements.

abc gum says:

Re: Re: Who needs foot patrols...

“The weapons are capable of shooting down aircraft and can counter “pop-up strikes” by helicopters, according to the MoD. During the Games, they will be controlled around the clock by 10 unarmed soldiers, who might be guarded by armed police.”

Unarmed … might be guarded … seriously?
Wow. What could possibly go wrong?
And if indeed the case, why would you publish the fact?

Imagine this in the context of a Monty Python episode – lol

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Who's Responsible?

Who’s responsible for the security at the Olympics? The hosting city or the people running the Olympics?

This 2007 reference, ?Changing Homeland Security: A Strategic Logic of Special Event Security? by Christopher Bellavita, indicates that security responsibility is assigned to the host country.

Typically, there is little guidance about what the public safety mission is for a large-scale event. For example, here, in its entirety, is the security portion of a contract between the International Olympic Committee (the group that awards a city the rights to hold the Olympics) and a recent host Olympic city:

Responsibility for all aspects of security is a matter to be dealt with by the appropriate authorities of the Host Country. The City and the NOC [National Olympic Committee] undertake that all appropriate and necessary security measures shall be taken accordingly.

That is all. With little formal guidance ? even for an event as large and complex as an Olympics ? public safety officials often have to craft their own mission. Effectively, they have three choices in determining what constitutes ?all appropriate and necessary security measures?:

Although that reference is a little dated, recent articles in the BBC indicates that 2012 London security responsibility is with the UK Home Office.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Who's Responsible?

Although that reference is a little dated, recent articles in the BBC indicates that 2012 London security responsibility is with the UK Home Office.

Following up, here’s something a bit more authoritative from the homeoffice.gov.uk website:

Securing the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games

The Home Office is responsible for ensuring the 2012 Olympic Games is safe and secure. Find out about our plans for Olympic security and other work to make the Games a success.

Someone Special says:

Re: Re: Re: Who's Responsible?

Thanks for the information. It seems to me that if London is responsible for security, then it’s not really fair to blame the Olympics for not being fully prepared.

I think the idea of “brand police” is ridiculous, but it’s disingenuous to imply that the Olympic organizers are hiring these people at the expense of regular security.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Who's Responsible?

…it’s disingenuous to imply that the Olympic organizers are hiring these people at the expense of regular security.

It clearly indicates management priorities.

At the top-most level, the government’s agenda is revealed by its actions. When the ?brand police? component is running smoothly and, in contrast, the G4S fiasco is hitting the news, well, that shows you what the ministers have been actually focused on.

Similarly, but more broadly, the goverment’s highly visible efforts to provide brand protection for corporate sponsors of the Olympic circus contrast markedly with their apathy in regulating the banksters.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Who's Responsible?

…these “brand police” were being deployed by the Olympic Committee…

Quoting from The Independent’s article:

Under legislation specially introduced for the London Games, they [the brand police] have the right to enter shops and offices and bring court action with fines of up to ?20,000.

I don’t think that the London Olympic Committee has legislative powers?whether or not the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) is clothed with the full authority of the state.

Someone Special says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Who's Responsible?

Yeah, then I have to agree with a lot of people who are calling this pretty draconian. The rationale that someone in one of the articles made that it’s taking money away from the Olympics seems on par with Jamie Kellner of Turner who said that skipping commercials is stealing.

Anonymous Coward says:

It’s a funny story, except of course that…

1) 300 isn’t really what they are missing, it’s more like thousands, and
2) the “brand police” could be retired people, handicapped people, or what have you, with you physical requirements at all.

So yeah, except for reality, your story is good. Too bad about reality.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Perhaps you misunderstood the OP. It isn’t saying that those 300 brand police would otherwise have been security police, so your criticism is misplaced.

I do think the OP misses the mark a bit in that the olympics committee isn’t in charge of security. If you are looking for something to nitpick about the article, that would be a better approach.

Anonymous Coward says:

Well there are some actions we can take to stop them from treating people like this. They’re very obvious.. well too me at least.

Make the sponsors pay for it is one way.. Stop buying their shit even if it’s just for a day. If enough people did that the cost would add up very fast making them change their ways or lose money.

Another obvious way is to not watch the Olympics. Myself I love the Olympics but I refuse to watch them. Same goes with movies and music.

relghuar says:

What's that "Olympics" thing?

Please don’t answer, I really don’t want to know. I’d like to forget the word itself as well, but with it appearing even on Techdirt…. 🙁
I’d like to think if enough people actively forget that it exists, and will avoid anything to do with it, that could make them reconsider their stupidity.
I’m not gonna hold my breath, though, stupidity is a pretty resilient and contagious virus.

Duke (profile) says:

In fairness to the “brand police” issue, there are 300 of them, but the security shortfall was around 3,500 people, so it isn’t as if those 300 could fill in the gap.

Plus, brand protection is worth a lot of money to big companies (or so they believe), normal security is just about saving lives and protecting ordinary citizens from crime. It makes far more sense for a government to priorities the way it has; companies donate to Parties and politicians, people just get in the way by doing that pesky voting thing, and sometimes they have the nerve to vote for the other side.

hfbs (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Seconded. While I can’t comment on the state of things in the capital, I can tell you that down here in Weymouth (the sailing avenue), pretty much everyone thinks it’s utter bollocks. The town’s nowhere near suitable for the extra traffic predicted and people aren’t terribly excited about having the whole of the main town centre (including vital roads) shut down or restricted.

From what I read about the security detail down here, it’s pretty bad too – some days have had a staff shortage of 60% and on the best days, they can only manage 85% of total. I haven’t seen any security people around, but I’m told they’re here. I suppose they’ll be more obvious during the actual games, but I’m buggered if I’m going out then.. everywhere’s going to be heaving. The only time I’ll go out is to work and even then, my commute’s blocked, so we’ve had had to do a complete shuffle round of routes and stuff.. Nightmare, I tell you.

Niall (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Same here in Glasgow, where we have some of the football. Everyone in Britain pretty well knows how much football is an effective religion in Scotland – and yet well over half the Olympic football tickets remain unsold. Other than a brief fillip for the torch coming through, no-one seems too impressed – I guess London 2012 is just ‘another London-centric’ event that is meaningless to us.

Plus, living near the venue myself (Hampden) I’m not looking forward to the disruption either. I really pity the poor buggers in London.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The only times I’m ever near London is when I go to a film festival in Leicester Square every August. Nobody I’ve talked to is particularly excited other than a few bits and pieces such as the torch coming through my home town 100+ miles away. Unless Team GB does exceptionally well, I think more people are going to be pissed off with it than actually enjoy it, at least locally. Nobody I know seems convinced that it will be anything other than an expensive disaster.

Last year when I was there, we were just pissed off at all the works that meant that standing outside the cinema and nearby pub between screenings became almost impossible. Now, I’m just hoping it’ll all be a distant memory before I go back there this year…

Thomas (profile) says:

The Olympics

are no longer about sports; it is all about businesses making money. “Brand Police” sounds silly; they obviously don’t care about the physical security of the athletes; they only care about making money and intimidating businesses. It’s typical of businesses today; the only thing they care about is money; they don’t care about people being injured or killed.

The chaos of the Olympics is a perfect opportunity for terrorists.

Anonymous Coward says:

Considering the absolute difference in the amount *AND MOST IMPORTANTLY* type of personnel needed for security and for making sure someone isn’t claiming to be a sponsor, the implication of this story is pure horseshit. They require a whole lot of security personnel. Bitching because they filled up 300 positions that require nothing more than a warm body but they couldn’t fill, but couldn’t come up with 11,000 more security personnel they were originally contracted for is just stupid.

That said, the whole brand police thing once again makes me glad I don’t watch the Olympics 🙂

Also, whose friggin idea is it to place a missile battery there? And NOT have it guarded by ARMED soldiers? That’s just asking for someone to move in, take it, and shoot down a news helicopter or something.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

the implication of this story is pure horseshit.

The implication you saw in the article isn’t the one I got from it, so YMMV, I guess.

In my reading, the point is that the branding police (i.e., defending against the public) is a well-run machine while the security police (defending the public) is travesty — thus revealing what is more important to the powers that be. I don’t really agree with the comparison (even though I find the olympics abhorrent), but that’s what I took from the OP.

btr1701 (profile) says:

> Under legislation specially introduced for the
> London Games, they have the right to enter shops
> and offices and bring court action with fines of
> up to ?20,000.

If this is the kind nonsense the IOC now requires of countries who want to host, it’ll be interesting to see what happens the next time the US wants to host an Olympics.

We have a pesky and inconvenient Constitution and no matter how much the Congress may want to drop trou and bend over for the IOC, they can’t just pass laws creating special ‘Olympics exceptions’ to the 1st Amendment and the 4th Amendment.

If I own a home or a building which can be seen from an Olympic venue in the US, I have every right to allow Pepsi to put a sign in my window even if Coke is the ‘official’ sponsor, and they certainly can’t legally give the cops the right to break into my private property and confiscate the sign or fine me for exercising my 1st Amendment rights.

If this is what the IOC requires, then the US will never again be able to meet their requirements and can no longer be considered as a host for the games.

And thank god for that.

Brent (profile) says:

Seriously, I cannot imagine how any business owner would support the Olympic Laws. I understand how the Olympics themselves could drive up business but unless the laws explicitly state what is allowed by the purple people in terms of “entering a store”, i would never allow a purple hat in my business w/o a police escort. I envision this law granting full access to a business, as in back room, store room, main office, etc – EVERY part of a business (to check for marketing ambushes, of course). I would kick out a purple hat and call the police and allow them to enter only if the police stayed until they left.

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