Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Riding the Olympic vehicle

The other night I was skimming through channels and caught some of the Olympics [I know I shouldn’t admit this, but for the most part, I’m not a fan of any Olympic sport except curling. Curling rocks. No pun intended. Well, yes, actually it was.]

Anyway, the interesting thing about the Olympics was not the athletes, the costumes, the pageantry or even the dedication to excellence shown by the people from all over the world who come together to compete. What I find most interesting is the sponsorship. Let’s face it, the Olympics is big business and companies shell out a lot of dough not only for advertising spots but to be able to call themselves a ‘sponsor’ of the Olympics.

I thought the commercial for McDonald’s was most intriguing. McDonald’s, they tell us, is an official food/eating place of the Olympics. Well, yeah. You have to figure with McDonald’s restaurants all over the world, the people who come to see the Olympics will feel very much at home under the Golden Arches…but I had to ask myself, would a dedicated aspiring professional athlete [yes, Olympians are supposed to be amateurs – but aren’t they competing for world wide recognition that could land them sponsorships of their own?] be wise to chow down on a Big Mac and Fries?

Apparently I’m not the only one flummoxed by this. Blogger Brett Blumenthal at Sheer Balance asked the same question and answered it more eloquently than I.

At a time when health and wellness are such a hot button issue, you would think the Olympics might want to take the opportunity to promote food that is actually healthy. Of course I guess that would be hard to do with a lot less money in their pockets.

If you’re a fan of the Olympics, does it bother you to see McDonald’s ads during Olympic broadcasts? Do you feel the message is hypocritical or worse, damaging to aspiring athletes who may get the idea that their idols are sitting down to McNuggets and fries before competing and still managing to win gold?


  1. It is hypocritical and may be damaging, but the ads don't bother me as much as it does when a parent takes his/her child to McDonald's on a regular basis just because it's easiest or what the kid wants. You can't expect corporations or organizations to be responsible when individuals can be bothered.

  2. That's true - the big companies are only capitulating to the masses. People want MacDonald's so why shouldn't they advertise it and make as much money as possible? I have no doubt they're not really interested in the subtext of their own messages.