ODA chair says strict rules restricting construction firms from promoting their Olympics work should be relaxed

The chair of the Olympic Delivery Authority has said the strict rules restricting construction firms involved in the Olympic Games from promoting their work should be relaxed to allow firms to tell their success stories.

Speaking at the Ecobuild conference today, John Armitt told delegates that in a report to be submitted to government he “would recommend a relaxation” of the marketing protocols, which restrict construction firms involved in the Olympic Games from promoting their involvement.

Armitt is mid-way through preparing a report for culture secretary Jeremy Hunt detailing what has been learnt from the £9.3bn process to build the Olympic Games, which is being seen as a vehicle for UK firms to demonstrate their role.

British companies won 98% of the 1,550 tier one contracts for the construction programme.

Armitt said the marketing restrictions, which have been a source of intense controversy in the past few months as the Games near, should be relaxed to allow UK firms to tell their success stories.

He said: “It has undoubtedly been a big thrust of my report that there is a big opportunity for UK firms to pick up and expand and use the reputation they have developed here.

“There’ll be millions of people coming to London and it’s an enormous advertising and marketing opportunity for UK Ltd.”

Asked if he’d favour a relaxation of International Olympic Committee “no marketing protocol”, enforced through contracts with suppliers, he said: “I would, although I have sympathy with the no marketing protocol.

“Marketing rights are pretty rigidly held during the period of the games. The key is going to be the release of that after the Games, so that British companies can do a lot more, after the Games, to maximise their opportunity.”

Armitt’s position on the marketing issue has changed since last month, when he described the row as “overdone”.

In February Building reported that the prime minister has asked Olympics minister Hugh Robertson to look into complaints that firms involved in building London’s Olympic park are being prevented from taking “due credit”.

This followed a call-to-arms on the issue by Peter Murray, New London Architecture boss, in Building. Firms such as Olympic stadium engineer Buro Happold backed Murray’s complaint that LOCOG is being unduly strict in protecting the marketing rights of sponsor firms such as Populous and Atkins.

Armitt’s intervention comes after Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) chair Margaret Ford, chief executive Andrew Altman and ODA chief executive Dennis Hone, all strongly questioned the Olympic marketing rights protocol earlier this month at the Mipim conference in Cannes.