The lifting of the Olympics marketing ‘gag’ shows a concerted industry effort can change baffling official policy

Sarah Richardson, editor of Building

The wait for victory - as Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis or any other of Team GB’s triumphant athletes in last summer’s Olympics would no doubt testify - often only increases the sweetness of the prize. That may not quite be true for those construction firms that, thanks to the draconian “No Marketing Rights Protocol”, had to remain silent over their involvement with the Olympic venues while the world’s attention was focused on London last August. However, the news this week that the ban on those firms promoting their achievements has finally been lifted is a clear cause for celebration.

The decision, announced by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the British Olympic Association on Sunday, is a major win for Building’s 2012 campaign, after a year of lobbying on behalf of those firms that had to greet the nation’s enthusiasm for their work on the Games with silence. It means that, for the first time, the thousands of companies that committed their time, effort and skill to making the Olympic venues the fantastic success that they were, now have the chance to use their achievements to help secure future business.

The justice in this is clear. These companies were willing to take the risk of working on the UK’s highest-profile project, the job with the most scrutiny and the most immovable deadline, and in many cases they will have committed a significant amount of resource and their best people. And the business, and reputational, risk that that involved should always have been counterbalanced by the reward of being able to promote a job well done.

The overturning of the olympics marketing ‘gag’ shows that sustained argument from industry can alter even the most complex of official policies

How far the relaxation of the rules will go towards the government’s goal of securing a £13bn economic boost from the effects of the Games remains to be seen, of course. But at least firms, like those medal-winning athletes last summer, can now compete on a playing field that takes fair account of the work and investment they have put in.

This week’s announcement is also extremely encouraging in a second sense: it shows that convincing and sustained argument from industry can succeed in altering even the most complex of official policies. At a time when many within construction are actively engaged in pushing the government to introduce measures to stimulate growth, this is a welcome reminder of what can be achieved if a substantial section of the industry co-ordinates its efforts. And Building will of course push to achieve similar success with our Green for Growth campaign, which now has
the support of a growing number of MPs, including Andrew Stunell and Nick Raynsford.

After all, the Green Deal and Display Energy Certificates may not quite have the glamour or profile of the London Olympics, but for the firms involved, and the health of the sector as a whole, the stakes are just as high.

Sarah Richardson, editor