Action taken after frustration over ‘No Marketing Rights Protocol’

Building 2012

The government is working to relax strict rules on 2012 marketing which are preventing firms that have worked on the Olympic Games from promoting their involvement.

Just over two months after Building revealed the extent of the construction industry’s frustration with the rules, the chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority, Sir John Armitt, said that ministers are working “with lawyers and LOCOG [the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games]” to ensure 2012 firms can gain full benefit from their achievements.

In a week of rapid developments, it also emerged that the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has begun lobbying on the “No Marketing Rights Protocol” and yesterday shadow Olympics minister Tessa Jowell raised the issue in parliament, backing Building’s campaign to ease the strict rules.

In response, Olympics minister Hugh Robertston said the government was sympathetic to the industry’s concerns and suggested that the rules would be relaxed after the Games take place. “Because the process has been such a success, we want the country and individual businesses to go out and tell that story”, he said.

Speaking at the Ecobuild conference on Tuesday, Armitt - who had previously described the Olympic marketing row as “overdone” - changed course to make a public call for a relaxation of the protocol.

It is understood that this will become one of the formal recommendations in the report Armitt is preparing for culture secretary Jeremy Hunt on the lessons learnt from the construction programme.

Speaking to Building afterwards, Armitt added there was little prospect of being able to relax the rules in advance of the Games, as they are governed through legal contracts signed by suppliers with LOCOG.

He said the focus was now on whether the 32-page protocol, designed to protect paying sponsors, which include Atkins and Populous, from having their investment diluted, might be relaxed immediately afterwards.

“There’s no doubt that ministers would like UK Ltd to maximise the opportunity to be able to talk about what they’ve done,” he said.

“If you were to ask them [ministers] for a response they’d say: ‘We’re working on it through the lawyers and LOCOG and others to try and sort out a very clear defined position.’”

New London Architecture chairman Peter Murray - who made a call-to-arms on the issue in Building’s first issue of the year - said this had clearly struck a chord with the industry.

“Building’s support on this campaign has been a very powerful force in generating change,” Murray said.

Peter Campbell, policy adviser at the BCC, said it was preparing to discuss the issue at meetings with senior officials at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and BIS.

He said the BCC had been contacted by firms unable to “mention” their Olympic work.

“We’ve been trying to get the government to wake up to this for a while,” he added.

Godric Smith, the government’s 2012 communications director, commended the “huge role” UK construction had played in the Olympics.

He added: “After the Games there will clearly be much more opportunity for firms to market their expertise.”