UPDATE: just 24 hours after mounting a bid to have the ads removed, LOCOG has backed down and is being asked to pay Paddy Power’s legal costs.
Here’s the full press statement, the full story is below:
In what must be deemed a gold medal winning U-turn, London 2012 organisers, LOCOG, have reversed their position from yesterday which demanded the removal of Paddy Power’s latest advertising campaign from poster sites around the Olympic City.
The billboards in question were erected to promote the bookmaker’s sponsorship of an elite athletics event featuring an egg and spoon race that is scheduled to take place in the picturesque town of London, France on 01 August 2012 and is part of the bookmaker’s on-going “We Hear You” marketing campaign.
Coincidentally today’s change of heart by LOCOG, which was communicated by their law firm Freshfields was taken just moments before Paddy Power’s law firm, Charles Russell, were set to enter the High Court in London seeking a court order against the Olympic organisers.
The legal ruling was sought by Paddy Power on the grounds that their campaign does not breach LOCOG legislation on advertising around the 2012 Games.
Over the past 24 hours, tens of thousands of Paddy Power fans turned to social media to show their support for the ad campaign and to vent their anger at LOCOG’s decision, resulting in the bookmaker trending on Twitter in the UK earlier today.
Paddy Power have confirmed that they will be seeking to recoup their legal costs from LOCOG and if successful will donate the full amount to grassroots sports initiatives across the UK.
A spokesperson from Paddy Power said “This is a victory for common sense and for each and every one of our customers and fans who supported us along the way. The athletes of London, France will be breathing a collective sigh of relief this afternoon. May the Games begin!”
As many of you will have seen, Paddy Power unveiled this billboard on Monday, in protest of the stringent marketing guidelines surrounding London 2012:
Ads were also taken out in London papers including the Evening Standard, City AM and the Metro.
The billboard states that Paddy Power is the “Official sponsor of the largest athletics event in London this year!” The athletics event in question is actually an egg and spoon race to be held in the French town of London.
Whilst the cheeky effort was appreciated by most, heavy-handed Olympic brand regulation organisation LOCOG has taken offence.
LOCOG contacted JCDecaux, the French advertising firm that owns the billboard sites, on Tuesday to ask for its removal.
I would have thought Paddy Power would accept this, having gained a great deal of good PR over the last couple of days – after all, everybody loves a David and Goliath story, but no. the bookie is now, according to the Guardian, seeking a court order against LOCOG to prevent the ads from being taken down, having instructed London law firm Charles Russell to seek a High Court Order. Paddy Power claims the ad doesn’t actually break any rules, which appears to be true.