London 2012: what legacy for the sponsors?
Following the success of London 2012 for British athletics, the talk inevitably is now turning to the legacy of the Games in terms of inspiring people to get involved in sports. The good news is there are reports of local athletic clubs being overwhelmed by the number of inquiries they have received during the Games. Cycling, in particular, is expected to see a huge surge in popularity following the incredible success of the British team. Another important part of the legacy of the Games is ensuring the Olympic Park, which over the last two weeks has been the scene of so many cheering crowds, doesn’t become a dustbowl in years to come.
But what of the sponsors?
There have rightly been question marks raised about the Olympic Games’ association with fast-food and fizzy drinks sponsors, in particular, but the organisers and the sponsors will argue they have played an important role in the successful staging of London 2012 and the 70-day Olympic Torch Relay that helped make these Games “by the people”. BT supplied its most advanced communications network for London 2012, while Coca-Cola’s investment in a state-of-the art plastic recycling plant and the Olympic Torch Relay, including its hybrid ‘Recycle Beat’ van, have been instrumental in the Games achieving zero waste to landfill.
But if London 2012’s overriding objective is its sport and sustainability legacy, then that of the sponsors must also be addressed. BT may boast about having successfully deliverd 500,000 wi-fi hotspots across the capital for the Games, but unless it takes back what it’s learnt at London 2012 and applies it to its day-to-day business and the customers it serves around the world, then surely it will have failed?
As for McDonalds and Coca-Cola, the mistake surely for them would be to go away from these Games without taking heed of the growing concern among health professionals, politicians and consumers about their role in an obesity epidemic gripping the western world. McDonalds opened its biggest restaurant in the world at the Games, but is ‘big’ really the message it wants to carry out of these Games?
And, while Coca-Cola may think it is doing enough in terms of corporate social responsibility by sticking labels on its drinks showing the calorific content of them, it surely must go away from London 2012 and come up with something more, if it doesn’t want to see its long history of sponsoring the Games threatened.
To my mind, it could start by stopping retailers from doing discounted promotional offers on Coke and other fizzy drinks and get the message out loud and clear to its customers that it’s making a stand against over-consumption of fizzy drinks.
Now that would be a worthwhile legacy of the Games.