Fiona McCade: Junk food’s given me my fill of Olympics
There I was, happily stuffing myself with all manner of sugary, high-calorie, fat-laden goodies, when I happened to take a cursory glance at the wrappers which I’d earlier torn off without a thought. Upon closer examination, I realised that I wasn’t wolfing down ordinary, everyday chunks of polyunsaturates. Oh no. Without realising it, I’d just consumed vast portions of Olympic Partner products.
The first thought that occurred to me was: “I bet Usain Bolt doesn’t eat this stuff,” followed swiftly by “…and what would I care if he did?”
Since I first noticed the Olympic Partner logo emblazoned on my sweeties, I’ve seen it everywhere. You can launder your clothes in Olympic-approved washing powder, your baby can poop in Olympian nappies, you can give your pet Olympic-standard treats, you can even cure your nasal congestion like the world’s top athletes do. You can watch the Games on an Olympic Partner television, check how much longer there is to go until they’re over on your Olympic Partner watch and pay for it all with an Olympic Partner credit card. The Olympics even have their own “official chemical company”, although I hope nobody tells certain athletes about this.
But, honestly, does anybody give a flying discus about whether their chocolates are Olympic-approved or not? I certainly don’t. Nor do I give a caber-toss if I’m washing my hair with Olympic-standard shampoo or drinking Games-friendly caramel and carbon dioxide-based beverages (I know that tossing the caber isn’t an Olympic sport, but it really should be.)
Bemused, I checked out the Olympic Partner website, which says: “The Olympic Games are one of the most effective international marketing platforms in the world, reaching billions of people in over 200 countries and territories throughout the world.” Hmm… I can understand what the Games get out of sponsorship, but of those billions of people, is there really anybody out there who is going to say: “Hey, I see the Olympics are sponsored by some company called Mc…Do…nalds. I wonder what they do? Shall we give them a try?”
Apparently, though, there are such individuals. Last week, a survey concluded that people who are aware of a brand’s Olympic affiliation are 50 per cent more likely to find that brand “inspiring” and “trustworthy”, as well as being 50 per cent more likely to consider purchasing an Olympic Partner’s product over another, non-Olympic-approved competitor’s.
Seriously, say you had a choice between two television sets that were the same in every respect – size, price, etc – would you really be swayed by the fact that one had a teeny-tiny “Olympic Partner” sticker on it? And if you were, would you be able to live with yourself long enough to admit it to a survey?
This makes my head spin so much, I can’t bring myself to believe it. Does this mean I’m sharing the planet with people who would tuck into a Big Mac (rather than a Burger King), a full-fat Coke (rather than a Pepsi) and a Cadbury’s Crunchie (rather than a Mars Bar) simply because these are official Olympic foods? And do they also believe that somewhere in East London, Jessica Ennis is doing exactly the same thing?
This is deeply depressing, but maybe it’s true. Maybe, after all these years, there are still those who decide on their marmalade by checking the label for a “By royal appointment” coat-of-arms, and these are the same ones who suddenly change all their buying habits whenever the Olympic Partner logo appears. If so, every four years those boys at Snickers must kick themselves for changing the name from Marathon. They certainly missed a trick there.
I’d take more notice – and buy more from them – if these same large companies built or invested in things such as schools and hospitals, and slapped their names on them. I’d be much more impressed by a long-term commitment to philanthropy, such as St Coke’s Academy or the Holiday Inn-firmary.
Unfortunately, over the next few weeks of wall-to-wall sport, the best way of escape is to take a plane or a train to somewhere far away. It’s an extremely tempting option, even if it means using an Olympic Partner to get there.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
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