I’m not much of a sports nut. In fact, in order to be able to write this entry, I had to go and look up the exact dates for the Olympic Games 2012. You’ll be relieved to find out that they start in pretty much exactly 64 days. Which would be the 27th of July.
Now, why am I writing about an event which I have no interest in at all? Because it’s necessary. You see, the Olympic Games, like any event of a certain size that gets broadcast all over the world, has sponsors. Very powerful sponsors who invest a lot of money so people all over the world can see that these modern-day gladiators do in fact splurge on Coca Cola. All day, everyday (it’s a no-brainer: I know how fidgety I get after a bottle of Coke, I’m sure professional athletes use that to their advantage). Anyway, since these sponsors invested a whole lot of money, they don’t want others, who didn’t unload truckloads of cash into the lobby of the IOC, to profit from the Olympic Games. Hence, they’ve managed to lobby the UK into passing a law which effectively outlaws the usage of “London2012” or any combination organisers and sponsors deem to be infringing on their copyright, by entities other than official sponsors.
Here’s an example of what that means:
One day, the small espresso shop near the site of the London Games was the “Olympic” cafe. The next day, it was the “Lympic.”
So where did the “O” go?
The manager won’t say. But it’s more than likely the small business became another casualty in the battle against guerrilla marketers – advertisers who try to associate their products with an event without paying to be sponsors.
(This article gives more insight into how the IOC has been cracking down on unauthorized usage of the five rings and whatever shitload of terms they have put their copyright on – read it, but only when you’re done with this one.)
Well, today the media are flush with news about suspended Twitter accounts, one of which was a parody account. Apparently, the usage of the 2012 logo is enough to have an account suspended, for people might actually confuse the account with an official sponsor. Which is the world we live in – warped, but accepted. But it does get a bit worse: Twitter is working closely with IOC to guarantee only real sponsors can buy ads associated with the London2012 hashtag. Now, even that seems ok. It’s about ads, not content posted by users. But here’s the thing: the IOC is always afraid of guerilla marketing stunts, and what better place than social media to do that? There’s no ban (yet) on using #London2012 in a tweet, so in theory, companies could use it to promote their products (a practice all sorts of Twitter users employ to peddle their shit). And they will. And Twitter might start policing the usage of the hashtag, and they might delete accounts of private users and they might reinstate these accounts but they might not. All in all, Twitter might be turning shit within a fortnight and there’s not a whole lot we could do. Or could we? We actually can.
As a pre-emptive strike against what might turn into a freedom of speech issue, let’s have some idiotic fun: starting July 27th, whenever you tweet, add the London2012 hashtag. Ask your friends, followers and/or foes to do the same. And while you might anger or bore your followers, you’ll have done something good and noble as well. For free speech, for people with little cafés in London called “Olympia” and maybe even for yourself (by disproportionally blowing up your sense of self-importance, of course).
Last but not least, don’t forget to share this posting wherever you go, preferrably of course by appending the mother of all hashtags: #London2012