Olympics are no brand aid

Mark Ritson states that “most of the companies big enough to afford an Olympic sponsorship and desperate enough to seek out global recognition are those most in need of reputational rescue” such as Dow Chemical, BP, and Lloyds TSB (MW 1 December).

Does this logic also apply to McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Acer, Atos, GE, Omega, Panasonic, P&G, Samsung and Visa (as Worldwide Olympic sponsors)?

Dow Chemical has been unfairly tagged for its £7m funding for the Olympic Stadium’s fabric wrap while the company is being vilified for the Bhopal disaster. As Ritson points out, Dow acquired Union Carbide 16 years after the accident and after compensation had been paid. Perhaps the publicity surrounding Dow’s sponsorship may finally confront the disaster and secure in people’s minds that Dow’s mission is to combine the power of science and technology with the “human element” to innovate what is essential to human progress.

For example, Dow’s sponsorship will connect its innovation with the principles of sustainability by producing a fabric wrap that can be repurposed following the event.

While Ritson criticises the IOC for accepting sponsorships from companies that have faced adversity, my view is that Olympic sponsorship is a responsible commitment to all of a company’s stakeholders. The Olympics are a rare opportunity to bring a very fragmented, yet global audience together to further marketing strategy, and helps to ensure the continuity of the Games – a rarely seen non-partisan apolitical fusion of people from all over the entire world.

Elise Neils
Managing director
Brand Finance USA

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