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VANOC ready to stop ambush marketing at venue gates

When it comes to so-called guerrilla marketing, quantity matters. Spectators can wear whatever brand of clothing they want into 2010 venues.

But get, let’s say, 20 people sporting the same non-sponsor t-shirt at the gate, and there might be a problem.

“Obviously we’re going to stop ambush marketing,” said Jan Damnavits, VANOC’s director of city venues.

His comments came during an open house of sorts for dozens of local and foreign reporters. With the 2010 Games less than two weeks away, organizers and security planners demonstrated airport-like check-in procedures at Pacific Coliseum.

Ticket-holding spectators can expect long lines that snake through white tents outside all competition venues. If personnel spot an obvious ambush marketing attempt, they’ll quickly consult with VANOC’s commercial rights management team.

“With them, we will facilitate exactly what our process will be to take care of those sorts of things,” Damnavits said.

Venue personnel at the 2006 FIFA World Cup made international headlines when they forced 1,000 Dutch soccer fans to strip to their underwear. The spectators wore bright orange lederhosen distributed by Bavaria, a non-sponsor European brewery.

Damnavits demurred when asked if similar measures could be taken in Vancouver.

“Right now, we don’t have any plans to make spectators take off their clothes,” he said. “That wouldn’t be very festive.”

Multinational corporations pay huge sums of money to become official Olympics partners. Host cities have to provide legal guarantees that sponsor rights will be protected. Sponsorship funding pays for about $1 billion of VANOC’s $1.75 billion operating budget.

“Once the games are here, to ensure their success, we need to have confident and satisfied commercial investors,” VANOC's director of commercial rights management Bill Cooper told the Tyee last year.

Geoff Dembicki reports for the Tyee.

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