LONDON — When sponsors pay millions to be the "official soft drink/clothier/wart remover/whatever" of the London Olympics, the Games' organizers are going to vigilantly protect their brand's exclusivity. In fact, a "brand army" is mobilized in London and has been on the lookout for everything from retailers misusing the Olympic rings to Pepsi swag in a Coca-Cola event.
[ Photos: London 2012 merchandise ]
Focus Formal Wear in Surbiton, however, did its best to mock, thwart and subvert those draconian rules in its storefront:
"We couldn't do anything with an Olympic window. Not allowed to use the logo or the words," store owner Stephen Holt told Fourth-Place Medal.
"Now, we have lots of people heaping praise on [the window]. It's a shame I didn't think about it sooner."
Holt said the inspiration for the window arrived in an email a few years ago. It was a brain-teaser: Each paragraph had words in which a few letters were switched around, and the mind was tricked into reading it correctly.
Hence, many passersby at the Focus Formal Wear window don't even notice the trademark-subverting misspellings.
If the branding army marches on Holt's shop, he may have an ally in London Mayor Boris Johnson, who's not a fan of the branding crackdown and told Sky News:
"If you want to stick five doughnuts in your window and call them Olympic rings then be my guest. Or if bakers want to make a gigantic Olympic pretzel in the high streets of London to advertise their wares then let them do so."
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- Stephen Holt