Saturday, 21 July 2012

MailOnline, the Middletons and the Olympic advertising rules

On Thursday morning, the lead story on MailOnline was about the Middletons and their business Party Pieces:

'Breach of strict laws'. 'Flouting the law'. 'Criminal offence'.

It sounded serious, although the tell-tale inclusion of 'could be' in the headline suggested otherwise. The article by Rebecca English said:

Kate’s sister Pippa, who writes an accompanying blog called The Party Times, is also taking a risk with a piece entitled Celebrate The Games And Support Team GB which provides links to many of the items on sale.

And although the firm is careful to avoid the most blatant breach of the stringent code – mentioning the actual word ‘Olympics’ – if you put Olympics into Party Pieces’ own search engine it takes you to their Celebrate The Games page, which could still be grounds for action.

Just after 5pm the same day, the Guardian reported:

The party planning company owned by the Duchess of Cambridge's family has been hurriedly cleared by London 2012 organisers of infringing brand protection laws, but will be asked to make "minor changes" to its website.

Locog said it would investigate the Party Pieces website, owned by the Duchess of Cambridge's parents and featuring a blog by her sister Pippa, after it emerged it was offering a range of Olympic-related goods in a section of the site headed "Celebrate the Games" and illustrated with the Olympic torch...

But following an investigation, a Locog spokeswoman said: "There are no infringements and the products are fine. We may ask them to make a very minor change to some copy."

At time of writing, over 36 hours after the Guardian's piece was published, MailOnline has not written an update for its readers. Given the prominence they gave to the original claims, they should.  

This comes less than two weeks after an attack on the Middleton family by Mail columnist Amanda Platell, who seemed very upset Pippa had been seen in the royal box at Wimbledon. The Middleton's now 'have an unsettling air of snootiness about their behaviour,' she said.

(Hat-tip to Jonathan Haynes)

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