It’s July 2012, a momentous month for the UK, a British tennis player reached the Wimbledon Men’s singles final for the first time since 1938. And the Olympics are in town, and when I say town I mean towns, many towns up and down Great Britain where the Olympic torch has already passed by lighting the way with Olympic spirit for the first time in over 60 years ago.
In this summer of British sport, it seems the media are rightly focusing on stories about sporting cheats, athletes that fake drugs tests as well as whether or not the Olympics infrastructure will be able to cope with the increased demands for the games.
However, in the maelstrom of activities for the brickies to get the stadia up and the plumbers to make sure the water flows in and the sewage flows out, there is another, quieter, preparation taking place, one far more organized, capable and ancient than the Olympic games themselves – counterfeiting.
Follow the route of the Olympic torch and you will find the counterfeiters selling fake merchandise and many ‘unofficial’ items with abandon. And while this may just seem like a few ‘Del boy’ sole traders making a few pounds in hard times, think again.
It is estimated that the Olympics will bring a boost to the UK economy to the tune £10 billion from the games; a mere drop in the ocean compared to the estimated £4,000 billion revenues generated globally by counterfeit goods.
It’s not just t-shirts and other Olympics branded merchandise which comprises the counterfeit activities for the games. Trading standards are reporting increased production of counterfeit cigarettes and alcohol as well. Some of the more popular counterfeit merchandise includes Olympics bags, Olympics cigarette lighters, Olympics branded sports vests, jewellery, badges and key rings. But by far, the runaway winners for counterfeit merchandise at the moment are Silicone bracelets with the Olympic rings on them and of course, fake Olympic medals.
In games where the USA, China and Russia tend to dominate the medals table, some surprising nations might climb the rostrum when it comes to competing for the gold medal for counterfeit goods. While it is often difficult to trace the counterfeit back to their original manufacturing source you might find the following countries taking the rostrum, alongside China and Russia, such as North Korea, Vietnam, Romania, India, Kenya and Taiwan.
So, while the athletes, organizers and spectators are enjoying the Olympics, bear in mind that while one sector of society will be enjoying the Olympics so will another, the organized crime syndicates are behind majority of counterfeit goods being distributed.
Written by Andy Churley, Marketing Director, NetNames