Aecom planning chief joins Building’s Olympic campaign

The masterplanner of London’s Olympic Park has joined with Arup in appealing to ministers to release companies from strict rules on 2012 marketing or face a “massive” lost opportunity to capitalise on the Games just as the eyes of the world turn to the capital.

Jason Prior, the designer of the Olympic and legacy masterplans for London 2012 and a key part of Aecom’s competition-winning design for the masterplan for Rio 2016, told Building that UK construction’s ability to “promote and export its significant skills” is imperilled by the No Marketing Rights Protocol.

Prior, the chief executive of planning, design and development at Aecom, was responding to Building’s 2012 campaign and its revelation last week that ODA chairman Sir John Armitt is now calling for ministers to relax the protocol, enforced by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG).

Failure to release firms from the restrictions will result in the loss of an opportunity

Jason prior, Aecom

Prior told Building: “London 2012 and its success to date has put UK companies in the enviable position of being able to promote and export its significant skills to a global audience … that is, if the current restrictions on marketing and promotion are lifted.

“Failure to release companies and individuals from the current restrictions will result in the loss of a massive opportunity, not just for this industry but for the country as a whole.”

Prior was backed this week by one of construction’s biggest names, Arup, which worked on almost 50 Olympic projects, including the aquatics centre and the ArcelorMittal Orbit sculpture.

Tom Foulkes, Arup’s head of marketing, said the firm had “scrupulously” abided by LOCOG’s marketing and brand rules but said these were putting innovation and growth at risk.

He said Arup routinely applied to LOCOG in writing even before confirming what schemes it had worked on.

“We have done various amazing things at the Olympic park but are not able to talk about this because of the protocol,” he said.

“This is a very strange world given the innovations that have been made and the great work that has been done. This protocol puts UK plc at risk.”

Ministers are currently in discussions with LOCOG and its lawyers on the protocol but are insisting there is no prospect of relaxing the rules - designed to protect the promotional rights of Olympic sponsors - before the games end in August.

Last week, shadow Olympics minister Tessa Jowell raised Building’s 2012 campaign in the Commons and challenged Olympics minister Hugh Robertson on whether “those businesses that have done so well and are rightly proud of their contribution to this year’s Games are too tightly bound” by the protocol.

Click here to see Building’s full analysis of the marketing rules.