In the June issue of China Economic Review we have a report on the impact of the torch relay protests on the major Olympic Games sponsors. The sponsors were contacted and asked a series of questions. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they were somewhat evasive in their responses.
The questions in general…
– Have you been surprised by the scale of the protests that have taken place during the torch relay?
– What impact have events surrounding the torch relay had on your marketing efforts? Do you anticipate any changes in strategy?
– [For the torch relay sponsors specifically] Was there a conscious effort to maintain a lower profile as the torch passed through certain cities?
– Was the possibility of protests taken into consideration when deciding whether or not to enter the sponsorship bidding?
A selection of responses (edited for length)…
We’re proud of our association with the Olympic Games – one of the world’s few unifying events – and of our support for the 2008 Beijing Games. As the Olympic Movement’s longest continuous corporate partner, we’ve seen first-hand the positive impact the Olympics has on athletes, host countries and billions of spectators … Our corporate sponsorship provides essential support to the teams and athletes who compete in the Olympic Games … Without the support of The Coca-Cola Company and the other eleven Worldwide Sponsors, 85% of the 200 National Olympic Committees could not send athletes to compete … At Coca-Cola we believe in the spirit of the Olympic Games which brings people from around the world together in hope and optimism. We believe the Olympics are a positive force for China and its people … We believe the games connect perfectly with the mission of Coca-Cola to provide all people with the opportunity for positive moments of refreshment and optimism in their lives. The Olympic Games, and the global attention they bring, have many positive influences in and beyond the sporting arena.
GE supports the Olympic movement. We believe the spirit of the games and the global attention they bring can have many positive influences beyond the sports arena. However, we feel that using the games as a platform to influence the policies of sovereign governments compromises the principles on which they were founded. The Olympics are an event for athletes from around the world. Our sponsorship provides funding for athletes that would otherwise not be able to participate in the games. We are proud of our longstanding and future support of the games – in Beijing in 2008, Vancouver in 2010 and London in 2012.
Lenovo is providing the information technology hardware which is the backbone of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games IT infrastructure … Our marketing/advertising strategy will continue to emphasize our role in one of the most logistically complex events of this decade and will focus on Lenovo’s reputation for building the world’s best-engineered personal computers … As a sponsor of the Olympic Torch Relay and the designer of the torch, we welcome the support and enthusiasm from those who have come out to share the Olympic spirit as the torch has traveled around the world. We are proud to play a role in spreading the important values the Olympics embody – unity, peace and sportsmanship – and hope they will affect our world in a very positive way … We believe that the Games offer us an unparalleled opportunity to demonstrate that Lenovo is a world-class brand with the world’s best engineered computers capable of handling the complex computing challenges. We feel that our sponsorship is very effectively accomplishing that goal.
McDonald’s is proud of our long-time sponsorship of the Olympic Games. We believe in the spirit of the Games and their unique ability to engage the world in a way that is constructive, positive and inspirational. Our focus has been and will continue to be on supporting the athletes, their teams, and the power of the Olympic Games to reinforce excellence, unity and achievement among people the world over. Concerning political issues, these need to be resolved by governments and international bodies such as the United Nations where they can most effectively drive discussions, diplomacy and help speed solutions. Regarding Tibet, our focus continues to remain on the games and the athletes, and we hope that a peaceful resolution can be reached for all parties concerned.