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UPDATED: Olympic organisers back down in Paddy Power poster row

Paddy Power celebrate a “victory for common sense” after LOCOG agree to let controversial ad campaign stand.

Updated 17.20

OLYMPIC ORGANISERS HAVE backed down from a row with Paddy Power over the firm’s latest advertising campaign.

The Irish bookmaker this afternoon confirmed that the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) had a “change of heart” after originally seeking to remove ads it felt breached the Games’ stringent brand protection laws.

“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,” a statement read.

“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.”

It continued: “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.”

Earlier…

PADDY POWER IS set for a court battle to protect its latest advertising campaign which has ruffled the feathers of Olympic organisers.

The Irish bookmaker has instructed its lawyers to seek a high court order to prevent LOCOG from having its billboard ads removed.

The ads declare Paddy Power to be the “official sponsor of the largest athletics event in London this year”, a clever reference to a competition they have organised in a small French town which shares its name with the English capital.

The “International Athletics Event” — which begins at 2.30pm on 1 August with an egg and spoon race — will be staged in the town which is “located in Burgundy, half-way between the mustard-makers of Dijon and the Lyonnaisse sauce-makers of Lyon.”

“Something exciting happened there once,” a Paddy Power blogpost explains, “but it was so long ago, no-one can really remember what it was.”

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and LOCOG are notoriously vigilant when it comes to the protection of the Olympic brand, restricting its use to the Games’ official sponsors and clamping down on ambush marketing.

But Paddy Power argue that the campaign does not breach LOCOG legislation.

“We pride ourselves on listening to our customers and what we’ve heard loud and clear is that LOCOG have got their priorities upside-down,” a spokesperson said.

“It’s a pity they didn’t put the same energy into the ticketing and security arrangements for the Games that they put into protecting their sponsorship revenue streams. We’re taking this fight to the High Court in the interest of our customers and of common sense.”

At Euro 2012, Paddy Power fell foul of similarly stringent UEFA rules when Nicklas Bendtner celebrated a goal by lifting his shirt to reveal a pair of the bookmaker’s branded boxers. The Danish striker was fined €100,000 and given a one-match ban.

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