SOCOG fails to put Perth firm on hold

HE HAD to be there. The biggest sporting event in the world was an opportunity too good to miss for any self-respecting ambush marketeer.

The eyes of the world would be watching.

So it is no surprise that ambush marketeer and managing director of Perth-based company Messages on Hold Australia Kym Illman has upset officials at the Olympic Games in Sydney.

The company is notorious for its ambush antics at major events to generate publicity.

Banners, balloons, scantly-clad employees and flashing neon signs – a myriad of means have been adopted to put the company’s name in front of cameras and audiences.

Despite SOCOG’s policy against ambush marketing, Mr Illman’s company has received considerable free media exposure of its logo, including the floating of a huge balloon covered with the firm’s logo so it appeared over the shoulder of Channel Seven’s Sydney newsreader.

The logo has also appeared during the tria-thlon, opening ceremony and weightlifting.

Mr Illman said SOCOG official Malcolm Bell shadowed him at the Aquatic Centre, warning him of the consequences of his actions.

“He also tracked down Messages on Hold Australia flag wavers twice and gave them a verbal lashing after spotting them on the NBC Today show, beamed live to the US every night,” Mr Illman said.

SOCOG media spokes-person Sharon Hobson said the committee had formed a brand protection team to patrol venues for breaches of ambush marketing policy by both sponsors and non-sponsors.

“It’s a serious business, but not a huge problem,” Ms Hobson said.

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