Someone once said “the revolution will be televised”, in that case it will almost certainly also be heavily sponsored. In Britain as “London 2012” looms large on the horizon it’s jagged magenta shards casting a great shadow upon our capital. Ahem, sorry. As the games draw close our commercial TV channels are increasingly packed with adverts from the official sponsors/supporters/partners. British Airways encourages people to not use their services to fly abroad but to stay at home instead and support Team GB (by all means use BAs internal flights of course). The athletes will be able to have a pre-event snack on the official cereal bar of the olympic games though Nature Valley’s adverts are the most light hearted and least sentimentalized of the lot. According to their ads P&G have the competitors every need seen to from keeping their kit pristine with washing powder, their hair clean, right down to essential “feminine hygiene products” to keep Mother Nature at bay. If they eat at the Official Restaurant of the games, Maccy D’s, then they won’t need the Fairy washing up liquid much though. If consolation is needed then a losing javelin thrower can skewer a Dairy Milk from the official treat supplier of the games. They can pay on their olympic Visa cards.
Joking aside the games sponsorship has received criticism in many areas including the heavy levels of sponsorship from fast food and drink companies; the fact that spectators are not allowed to use any device that is capable of recording video (must watch the footage on Sky/BBC coverage of course); and the fact that their terms for the torch relay advised that runners should wear “comfortable, unbranded or Adidas shoes.” One commenter suggested simply running barefoot. Apparently one mum in Kent was told she couldn’t wear a Help for Heroes wristband.
Then there’s the food and we return to the Official Restaurant, mine’s a Big Mac, thanks. In McDonalds’ sponsorship deal it is specified that they can have the monopoly on selling chips or french fries unless sellers jump through the loophole of them being part of a Fish and Chips package and even then LOCOG had to ask McDonalds for permission to allow our traditional combo. In the same article The New Statesman reminds us that T-shirts with logos of companies that aren’t official sponsors have been banned from the Olympic Park. Some credit though goes to the LOCOG catering team who are trying to provide an interesting selection of food for visitors.
Companies and organisations not officially linked to the games have been referring to “the events this summer” for fear of getting into trouble for mentioning the word “Olympics” due to restrictions to control “unauthorised association” with the games – a concept which has even been enshrined in law especially for the games. If you do say anything about LOCOG that they consider is in a “derogatory and objectionable manner” then you can’t link to the Olympics site, Mike Masnick at Techdirt linked anyway here.
I’m far from alone in my view of the Olympics sponsorship, while preparing this entry The Independent also launched a debate on the subject as have the BBC whose piece includes the story of a butcher who was told to remove a 2012 themed display of sausages, an old lady who couldn’t sell a £1 knitted doll in a olympic kit, and the Birmingham Royal Ballet who were forced to change the name of a production from “Faster, Higher, Stronger – the Olympic motto – to Faster”.
I’m not a fan of the Olympics as such but as it’s in our country I do hope that the sports will take centre stage from next friday and it’ll be an event to remember for the right reasons.