The five Olympic rings represent the five cont...

Image via Wikipedia


I am amazed at how quickly a Government body can undermine the lively hood of a common business by forcing it to change a registered and often trademarked name to justify its (The Government appointed body) own existence.

As I follow the escapades of Vanoc in its ever-broadening attempt to cut off the use of the words Olympic, Games City, Twenty-ten, Medals, Sponsor, Vancouver and Whistler I reflect on the words of Orson Wells in his book, “1984” and ponder, “Could it become a reality?”

“Published in 1948 and set thirty-six years in the future, 1984 is George Orwell’s dark vision of the future. It is a chilling depiction of how the power of the state could come to dominate the lives of individuals through cultural conditioning.”

According to the Province News, Vanoc will employ brand cops to ensure we comply with their new marketing regulations by having its officers monitor Canadian daily and weekly newspapers, periodicals and surf the internet. The document quoted by the Province also stipulates that they (Vanoc Police) will also monitor Canadian TV, radio networks and home based businesses, billboards, and street furniture as well as transit shelters.

The article continues by noting that the Brand Cops will report monthly except during the 2008 games in Beijing summer Olympics and in March of 2010 they will report weekly.

The ranking reads like a full-blown terrorist alert, as all incidents reported to Vanoc must be listed as, “Red for high risk”, “Yellow for a medium threat”. I am assuming “Black and blue is for those who fail to comply?

There was no mention of the penalties for conversations between two consenting adults using any of the banned words. I am going to assume there is something in the fine print for the unfortunate who have a momentary lapse in judgment.

Officers will wear long black trench coats and sunglasses to ensure greater intimidation of the masses prior to arrest.

You may recall that in late 2004, VANOC went after the owner of Vancouver pizzeria Olympia Pizza, asking him to take down the sign he had used since 1993. The sign depicted the Olympic rings and torch.

Other notations in the news both past and present include:

“VANOC is reviewing a newspaper ad that ran on the weekend in The Globe and Mail and Le Journal de Montreal to see whether it infringed on the Olympic brand. …coloured paint chips are used to depict the Olympic rings. Sico is not an Olympic sponsor.”

“Saint-Jacques Vallée Young & Rubicam, was careful to make sure the newest ad did not violate Olympic copyright. …they used the word “games” with a lower-case “g” in an effort to make it more general.”

“Industry Minister Maxime Bernier introduced Bill C-47, the Olympic and Paralympic Marks Act, legislation that provides the Vancouver Olympic organizers with remarkable power over the language and symbols associated with the Olympics. The legislation is supposedly intended to deal with ambush marketing, which are attempts by businesses to associate themselves with the Olympics without becoming official sponsors.”

Extended reading:

Olympic trademark battle snares small businesses

Do Olympic rings bind art?

Should the Vancouver Olympic Organizers Own “Winter”?

Vancouver 2010 Olympics Daily Coverage


Allan Herman, Creative Visual Marketing Services Incorporated (CVM Inc.)