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Olympic companies call for end to ban on promoting work on games

Architects, engineers and technology companies speak out against protocol enforced by London 2012 organising committee

David Cameron is facing calls to end a ban on companies involved in the London Olympics from publicising their work on the games and has been warned that the gagging order is undermining job creation and economic growth.

Architects, engineers and technology companies have spoken out against a protocol, enforced by the London 2012 organising committee, which has prevented firms from entering projects for awards, publishing photos of completed arenas and even submitting work to exhibitions.

Olympic organisers said the rules were intended to protect the rights of major sponsors, but many suppliers say they clash with ministerial statements that the Olympics will provide British business with an economic boost.

On Monday, Cameron said “all credit” was due “to the people involved in providing these venues, getting them ready on time and on budget”.

Ken Shuttleworth, the designer of the handball arena, said his firm has had a tussle with Locog over whether it could feature the venue in his company’s own annual report, while Locog shut down attempts by a non-commercial trust to stage an exhibition about the London 2012 venues and suppliers.

Zaha Hadid, the architect of the aquatics centre and Sir Michael Hopkins, the architect of the velodrome, are among those covered by the no marketing rights protocol, but it is the dozens of smaller, less high-profile suppliers who are most concerned.

They have said they are being constrained when pitching for work on events such as the football World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in Brazil 2016.

“There is a contradiction between what different sides of government are saying,” Roger Hawkins, whose firm’s £110m redesign of Stratford station was prevented by the Olympic Delivery Authority from being entered for a Civic Trust award, said.

“We would love to promote our work on this complex technical project because we have developed skills that we would like to market into other opportunities. We are not allowed to do that, and there is a level of frustration in the design team about that.”

Deborah Saunt, whose DSDHA firm designed the tallest tower in the athletes’ village, said the rules “run contrary to common sense”.

“We feel we have produced a new model of social housing, but we can’t go out and promote it,” she said. “Normally we would be publishing this globally, but here we have to wait until we are asked to talk about it. This is a missed opportunity.”

STL Communications, an Oxfordshire telecoms firm that won the contract to provide hundreds of phones to be used by organisers to co-ordinate the opening and closing ceremonies, has written to Cameron demanding a rethink.

The firm told the prime minister the gag means it may have to forego 20% business growth.

“It is hard to understand how somebody providing tiles or doors is going to ambush Adidas or BMW by marketing their involvement in the games,” Jim Heverin, a partner at Zaha Hadid Architects, which designed the aquatics centre, said.

Locog said a large proportion of the funding for the staging of the games comes from sponsorship by companies purchasing exclusive rights to promote their association with the games.

“Without these sponsors the games simply wouldn’t happen, so we require suppliers not to advertise their involvement in order to protect our sponsors’ associations with the London 2012,” a spokesman said.

“Contractors are able to factually refer to the work they have done on the games when pitching for new business or refer to it on their websites alongside other examples of their work.”

Peter Murray, a trustee of the Building Centre Trust, which was refused permission to stage a London 2012 exhibition, urged Locog to “ease up”.

He said: “It is in the national interest that we make the best of the Olympics over the next nine months. I can see no problem in people using it from a branding point of view. As long as people do it in a responsible way, it can only enhance the economy.” © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds