A 300-strong task force is prowling the London streets during the Olympics. Their job is not to protect the citizenry, but the Games’ sponsors by cracking down on “ambush marketing,” a.k.a. retailers that use Olympic branding (the rings, or even just the name) without paying to be an official sponsor. Eleven companies — including Visa, Coca-Cola, McDonalds, and Adidas — have paid a total of $1.4 billion for the right. And organizers mean for it to be exclusive.
In 2007, a year after London was named host of the Games, butcher Dennis Spurr of Weymouth was forced to take down a sign depicting sausages in the shape of the Olympic rings after brand police threatening him with fines of up to $30,000.
If an athlete was to bring one of these bags to an event, he or she would likely face disqualification. During the Euro 2012, Danish footballer Nicklas Bendtner lifted his shirt to reveal underpants plugging ‘Paddy Power.’ At the Olympics, such a move would “most likely” prohibit an athlete from competing, Olympic organizers said.