Everyone knows the London Olympics are going to be an advertising shit-show. But a full understanding of the Olympics' all-enveloping corporate embrace requires a trip into the "Brand Exclusion Zone," a desolate region of London where only Official Olympic Sponsors can survive.
One of the key terrors of Olympic organizers is that a logo that doesn't belong to one of the Official Sponsors like Coca-Cola or McDonald's might sneak into the frame of a camera documenting the Olympics. These sponsors paid up to $100 million for the privilege of sponsoring the Games, and if Burger King manages to get advertising for free just because some moron happens to be wearing a Burger King T-shirt outside a stadium, well, it gives up the whole business model.
If it were economically feasible, organizers would physically seal off all Olympics venues in geodesic domes emblazoned with a million golden arches, for panoramic brand immersion. Instead, organizers are implementing so-called "Brand Exclusion Zones" around Olympic venues, wherein large chunks of London will be carefully monitored to ensure Brand Purity. The blog Kosmograd details the Brand Exclusion Zones:
The most carefully policed Brand Exclusion Zone will be around the Olympic Park, and extend up to 1km beyond its perimeter, for up to 35 days. Within this area, officially called an Advertising and Street Trade Restrictions venue restriction zone, no advertising for brands designated as competing with those of the official Olympic sponsors will be allowed. (Originally, as detailed here, only official sponsors were allowed to advertise, but leftover sites are now available). This will be supported by preventing spectators from wearing clothing prominently displaying competing brands, or from entering the exclusion zone with unofficial snack and beverage choices. Within the Zone, the world's biggest McDonald's will be the only branded food outlet, and Visa will be the only payment card accepted.
The Brand Exclusion Zone will be patrolled by "a crack team of branding 'police'" who have the power to scour even the logos from toilets in the bathroom, according to the Guardian. And the BEZ extends to cyberspace, too, where athletes are prohibited from tweeting or blogging about any brand that's not an Official Sponsor.
Expect running street battles between brand police and guerrilla marketers to rage throughout the Games.