04/27/2012 11:10 am ET

Ad Rules Hurting Small Businesses For The London Olympics?

London organizers and the International Olympic Committee are policing everything from dogs to body paint in an effort to protect their 53 sponsors and Olympic partners from unauthorized advertising.

Ad agencies say the move is to enforce the strictest rules they’ve seen for any event. London 2012 has raised about 1.4 billion pounds ($2.2 billion) from sponsors including Coca-Cola Co. (KO) (KO) and McDonald’s Corp. (MCD) (MCD) Businesses that didn’t pay as much as 100 million pounds required for a top-tier sponsorship, according to consulting firm Deloitte, are having a hard time finding ways to associate themselves with the Olympics without provoking officials.

Merely combining the words “games” or “2012” with other words including London, summer, sponsors, medals, gold, silver or bronze would breach the rules, which carry fines of as much as 20,000 pounds. Non-sponsors also can’t refer to athletic images, mottos and logos, including the Olympic rings and mascots, said Adam Glass, a partner at U.K. law firm Davenport Lyons, who advises retailers on advertising around the Olympics.

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