Surbiton business owner gets around Olympic word ban

This entry was posted on Monday, July 23rd, 2012 at 4:30 PM

On Friday I wrote about the ridiculous restrictions on the use of certain words and phrases connected with the Olympics. It’s meant to stop businesses from infringing the rights of the sponsors with ‘ambush marketing’. But it’s hard to see how a small local business, who uses an Olympic theme for its window dressing, could possibly hurt a giant like McDonalds.

One such small local business has come up with an inspired way to get around the ban. Take a bow Stephen Holt, owner of Focus Wear in Surbiton.

The poster in the shop window features five squares in the colours of the Olympic rings and reads:

‘Lodnon 2102 Oimplycs’

“I wanted to do an Olympic themed window,”  Stephen told me. “I’ve had endless discussions with Olympic organising committee, LOCOG, but I was getting nowhere. They told me that if I used the rings I’d be implying I was a sponsor – little old me!” he laughed.

Then on Thursday last week, Stephen, who runs the shop with his wife Sarah, had what he described as an epiphany.

“A couple of years ago someone emailed me a paragraph of text that had the letters jumbled up, yet it was still readable. I suddenly remembered it and decided to do my own take on it to get around the restrictions.

“I gave the idea to my printer later that day, and the poster was in the window by the weekend.”

Roberts dry cleaners, two doors away, is also displaying the poster and both businesses are getting a lot of attention. Photos of the shops have been tweeted by several people and have even been retweeted by Labour MP for West Bromwich East, Tom Watson.

The poster will probably get a lot more attention tomorrow when the torch relay comes to Surbiton and passes by the shops on Claremont Road in Surbiton.

I love the inventiveness of Stephen’s poster. We keep being told that the UK is staging ‘the greatest show on earth’ so why shouldn’t Stephen and other businesses be allowed to join in the celebration if they aren’t hurting the sponsors?

Stephen and his wife Sarah opened Focus Formal Wear 24 years ago. Situated at 8 Claremont Road in Surbiton, the shop specialises in menswear hire for weddings and formal occasions.

And here’s the link to the text that was the source for Stephen’s inspiration.

‘Brand police’ deployed to hunt out ambush marketeers | The art of translation – guest post by Rachel Giles

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Hello. I'm Elaine, I'm a copywriter and this is my blog.

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