There is criticism of the news that Cadbury is to be one of the raft of corporate sponsors for the 2012 Olympics in London.

Public health officials claim the decision to accept a reported £20m worth of sponsorship from the Birmingham-based confectionery manufacturer.

With cases of childhood obesity and diabetes running at alarming levels, health campaigners believe the choice of Cadbury as a corporate partner is ill-judged.

They maintain it sends out completely the wrong message regarding the Olympic ideal.

But since when has that been a consideration? The Games went corporate a long time ago and big business has muscled its way into the pursuit of athletic and sporting excellence.

The Olympic motto – Faster. Higher. Stronger – has arguably taken on a very different meaning in the last 20 or 30 years. It no longer simply applies to sporting endeavour, but applies to the corporate connections of the Olympics too:

  • Faster – the major motor manufacturers who invest hundreds of millions in promoting their gas guzzlers.
  • Higher – the spiralling debt courtesy of financial backers, such as credit card companies.
  • Stronger – the alcohol content of drinks produced some of the drinks manufacturers.

As part of the 2012 deal Cadbury will be the sole supplier of confectionery and ice cream at all London 2012 venues.

And they are joining Coca-Cola and McDonald’s, those other guardians of healthy diet, as official food and drink suppliers.

Ahead of this year’s Games in Beijing, Steven Wells wrote an excellent piece on how the Olympics has become forever lost to the forces of corporate capitalism.

London 2012 might well be a more relaxed, friendlier, less costly spectacle than the Games in China, but with £430m in sponsorship already secured out of a target of £2bn it will be just as corporate.

For that reason alone the criticism of the Cadbury deal is ill-advised.

I rather see it as a good bit of business by Cadbury, a leading UK company sponsoring the Olympics in London makes a great deal of commercial success.

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11 responses »

  1. Fiona says:

    And let us not forget, the best way to watch the world’s best compete is with Crunchie and a cuppa tea (kipper tie?) in hand.

  2. dp says:

    I haven’t followed this story, partly because I’m a bit bewildered by the thought of anyone complaining that a very well known British company has offered to subsidise the out-of-control Olympic spend. How could an objection be anything other than hypocritical or naively idealistic?

  3. Paul Groves says:

    Fiona: Absolutely. Alas, there appears no truth in the rumour that as part of the Cadbury deal those taking part in the 100m in 2012 will have to wear a gorilla suit and have Phil Collins singing “In the Air Tonight” playing over the PA system.

    dp: It seems the way of things these days – criticise first and loudest so you can get your voice heard, no matter whether it is justified or not. I blame the Christian right in the USA.

  4. dp says:

    That’s funny. I blame the authoritarian left in the USA. The reactionary right have only learned it lately.

  5. Paul Groves says:

    dp:…not forgetting Thatcher!

  6. dp says:

    Don’t be ridiculous! It’s all to do with Stalin, of course. And quite possibly that Chamberlain fellow.

  7. Paul Groves says:

    Stanley Baldwin doesn’t escape blame free…but I’ll stick with Thatcher and the Christian right for now.

  8. Yes well McDonalds have always supported such causes! Why not Cadbury too! … Suck us in through advertising while we watch athletes sweat years of effort for a few moments… we just get fatter and crave more sweets thanks to the continual ads played!!!

  9. Paul Groves says:

    pomegranate: I’m not one for forward planning, but “…watch athletes sweat years of effort for a few moments… we just get fatter and crave more sweets…” sounds like a great idea for 2012. I’ll make a note for four years time 🙂

  10. Mikki says:

    Personally I object. The cost of sponsoring these events has to be recouped somewhere – from the consumer, who has to pay more for their chocolate. Wrong wrong wrong. Chocolate should be subsidised, not used to subsidise others.

    This too is probably the fault of the Christian Right in America but I haven’t worked out how.

  11. Paul Groves says:

    Mikki: That hadn’t occured to me. The campaign against Cadbury sponsorship starts here and now.

    Simply pinning the blame on the Christian Right (or Thatcher!) is enough, no further explanation or justification is necessary.

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