An Olympygian proposal

I understand from today’s Independent that the Olympic Delivery Authority is to deploy a ‘brand army’ of 286 enforcers who are to tour the country making sure that businesses do not carry out ‘ambush marketing’ to associate themselves with the London Olympic Games. A list of banned words is supplied, which include the following:

Olympic – Olympiad – Olympian – Summer –London– Games – Two thousand and twelve – 2012 – Twenty Twelve – Medals – Gold – Silver – Bronze – Sponsors.

This is an absolute outrage. The Olympic Committee does not own our language, and it does not own the date. Any arts company using the phrase ‘Summer Season 2012’ in its brochures or on its posters will now have to budget and extra £20,000 in case they are fined for doing so.

I also find ‘ambush marketing’ an insulting phrase. It essentially means that we can’t celebrate the Olympic year (should we wish to). This has seen WI members prevented from knitting Olympic Teddies and publicans prevented from advertising non-Olympic-sponsored beer alongside TV coverage of the games on their pub blackboards.

There are two possible approaches to this assault on our rights and our dignity, both of which involve ripping the piss out of the whole enterprise (to use a technical expression). The first of course is to plan mass disobedience – create a cloud of metaphorical midges to madden and distract these language police. Every firm in the country should issue a press release with wording such as:

‘ABC Theatre and its sponsors welcome you to our 2012 Summer season. Packed with theatrical gold, our enticing schedule will play games with your mind. Special season ticket reductions for the inhabitants of London Colney and London Apprentice.’


‘Bonkers Bakery is offering a Summer Picnic Special. With every sandwich and drink purchased you will receive a fairy-cake with gold and silver icing. Perfect for your child’s 2012 School Games Day.’

The drawback to this is that you might have to go to court and argue it out with a  judge, due to the legislation specially passed for the Olympics which has allowed this to happen in the first place. The best defence must surely be that the British public is the biggest sponsor of the London 2012 Olympics, and in the case of the arts, we have had to hand over huge amounts of potential subsidy as well, via the Lottery.

My second suggestion required an inventive approach to language, for which the land of Shakespeare is of course rightly famed. These could either be existing similes or, for greater fun and pleasure, neologisms, or what C S Lewis called ‘nonce-words’ (i.e., words made up for a single use, or ‘for the nonce’ – an old-fashioned expression which has nothing to do with prison slang).

For example, instead of ‘Olympic, Olympiad, Olympian’, I suggest the alternative Olympiate, Olumpian, or Olympygian (I have to say ‘Olympiate’ also has a nice feeling of ‘Olympian’ and ‘opiate’, which seems apt. ‘Olympygian’ also carries the pleasing suggestion of buttocks, from the Greek.)

Other ideas:

  • Summer – Notwinter, Somer, the season between Spring and Autumn, Raintime, July and August.

Sponsors – supporters, spoonsers, sponserios, sponsoroonies, sugar daddies.

London – Londinium, the Great Wen, The Smoke, Our Great Capital City That Was Here Long Before Locog Was A Twinkle In The Eye of the Gods (OGCCTWHLBLWATITEG for short).

Games – frolics, competition, diversions, athletic challenges, screwing.

2012, etc. – ’12, The Year 12, Twenty-One-Two. Or use the Islamic calendar, which counts 2012 as either 1391 or 1433, depending on how you look at it.

So we would have the Notwinter 1391 Great Wen Olympygian Frolics. Sounds a lot more fun, anyway.

Published in: on July 16, 2012 at 10:07  Comments (5)  

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I agree with your general argument over the commodification of this event, but small point of order: many of the words on your list are only considered in breach of the copyright orders when in conjunction with some of the other words, so your example ‘2012 Summer Season’ would be fine, as I understand it.

    In most cases, it’s combinations of the words on that list which produces an association with the Olympiad which will be clamped down on – not just the individual words from the English language. This is not uncommon in copyright.

    I do like ‘Olympygean’.

  2. and ‘precious-type metal danglers’ for the medallion-type thingys, too?!

  3. Thanks for highlighting this Lady Eff. It is an outrage – but surely it’s also legally dubious, as copyrighting usually only works if the words are not already naturally a part of day-to-day language. I would have thought *non-expert-opinion-alert* that a prosecution against someone using the word “Summer” is highly likely to fail miserably. (Perhaps a lawyer can comment?)


    How about we ALL use the words (with the possible exception of the O-words, just to be safe) and then DOB EACH OTHER IN to the brand police? In fact, all theatres/cinemas/summer clubs/concerts etc already using “2012” (this has to be ALL of them, surely, given that it’s the DATE) can already dob themselves in. It would probably cause more chaos if we dobbed each other in, or got random members of the public to do so on our behalf. Really clog up this stupid, cloth-eared, fascistic, jobs-worthy, anti-life system and watch them call in the army to help sort it out…

    I think I might be disseminating this blog quite widely…

    NB my associate Lee suggests that the word “summer” should be particularly excused as WE’RE NOT EVEN HAVING ONE.

  4. Thanks folks. Before we go off on one (umm, except I think I might already have done so…) Badger has a point. I’d better check out the details of this crazy plan before actually starting a campaign. Rosalind – I adore the idea of everyone dobbing each other in. And tell Lee I love him too.

  5. I really don’t think that even Judge Lupin of Barking County Court would uphold this.

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