Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Olympic Chief Questions the Role of Sponsorship by Coke, McDonald's

This week, Marketplace radio (American Public Media) ran a short news story on how the International Olympic Committee ("IOC") chief Jacques Rogge recently admitted his own personal discomfort of McDonald's and Coca-Cola's worldwide sponsorship of the Olympics, specifically as it relates to concerns about obesity (on a worldwide basis). After all, the games are an exposition of physical fitness, which is the antithesis of obesity. You may listen to that below, or by visiting:

As a point of reference, the IOC derives most of its income ($3.9 billion) from the broadcasting rights to the Olympic games. However, the British press reports that $957 million came from its 11 global sponsors which includes Coca Cola and McDonald's.  McDonald's has sponsored the games for approximately 36 years.  Coca Cola has also been a long-time Olympic sponsor.

To be sure, the subject of obesity is a complex problem, but both companies have contributed to the problem with their core product offerings.  For example, regular Coca Cola is, almost by definition, empty calories.  And McDonald's is frequently criticized for offering mostly calorie-laden foods, a high percentage of which are deep fat-fried in oils, then further seasoned with salt and highly-caloric dressings including the company's famous Big Mac "special sauce" which is a concoction of mayonnaise (or a mayonnaise-like substance) with sweet relish, and offering too few healthy food choices, most of which have been introduced in recent years (salads, for example, which many criticize for coming with calorie-laden creamy salad dressings rather than lower-calorie vinagarettes, and even many of those are laced with corn syrup or other completely unnecessary sugars).

However, Mr. Rogge acknowledges that the IOC challenged these sponsors and asked what they are doing about the issue of obesity.  He did cite the introduction by McDonald's of healthier menu options and Coca-Cola's zero-calorie drinks as some evidence of their taking public health seriously, but also noted that much more needs to be done.

In the end, the sponsorships are actually a small slice (estimated to be around 10% of the total) of funding, but in the absence of alternative sources of funding, they are still a critically important source of funds for the games themselves.

1 comment:

Jenny said...

Whatever their original purpose, the Olympics have become another juicy bait used to draw people to watch ads. In addition, the nonstop coverage induces people to sit for many hours a day watching other people being active. Since the number of hours spent sitting each day is as big a health threat as anything people eat. Sports watching (which I'm often guilty of)deludes people into feeling like they've done something. Turning off TV entirely will lead to more activity of all sorts and probably weight loss. I and my kids went TV free for years and it paid off in accomplishment and athletic accomplishmen (for my kids.)