McDonald’s, Coke Face Olympics Ban!
It may come as a shocker to the fast food giants Coca-Cola and McDonald’s that the London Assembly is taking steps to have both the Olympic sponsors banned from the 2012 Games for promoting high-calorie food and beverages. The news is definitely bigger than what New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is attempting to do in his city and if this ban comes through, both the companies will be jolted out of their socks.
The London Assembly
With just more than a month left for London to host the prestigious 2012 Olympics, the London Assembly is making efforts to bring about a ban on both McDonald’s and Coca-Cola. It is doing so through its motion urging the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to go for stricter sponsorship rules so that advertising of products encouraging child obesity can be controlled. During the motion, Green Party’s Jenny Jones told the Assembly, “London won the right to host the 2012 Games with the promise to deliver a legacy of more active, healthier children across the world. Yet the same International Olympics Committee that awarded the games to London persists in maintaining sponsorship deals with the purveyors of high calorie junk that contributes to the threat of an obesity epidemic.” However, the political opposition to presence of these junk food giants is not the only thing. There are other factors involved too.
The Criticism of IOC
Apart from political criticism, the IOC has been under attack from other quarters too for attempting to tempt the athletes as well as the general public with the Big Macs and the large sodas. The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AMRC) has been one of the most vociferous critics of the IOC because it feels that the Committee is “sending out the wrong message” to children by awarding McDonald’s and Coca-Cola the exclusive rights to sell food and beverages at the Olympics. University College London also pitched in with its share of criticism for the two giants trying to mint money at the cost of public health. The University’s Terence Stephenson said, “And we know, particularly when it comes to junk food advertising aimed at children, it does have an affect on the type of food they want to eat.” Stephenson is bang on with his charge because scientific research has proved that fast food advertising promotes bad eating habits among children.
The Menu for Olympics
Take a look at the menu planned by McDonald’s for the Olympics and you will get the idea. It is going to serve Big Macs, fries, and milkshakes on its exclusive menu at the four restaurants that it has planned for the Olympics Games. Similarly, Coke has also planned everything, from small to large, extra-large drinks for the Games menu. It is because of the menu that AMRC believes that the sponsors are the “biggest danger” to the children’s health.
The Financial Threat
However, there is another side to this story too. Those who support such fast food giants and soda companies associating with the Olympics argue that without the help of big companies, the Olympics Games would face serious financial crunch. The organizers of the Games are quick to admit that that is the case, indeed. Forty percent of the Olympic revenue comes from commercial partnerships, and since, this time, it is two of the biggest contributors of the Games who are under threat, the financial situation becomes even more precarious.
Coca-Cola has been sponsoring the Olympic Games every time since 1928 and McDonald’s started sponsoring the Games since 1976. For a four-year commitment, the sponsors are likely to cough up $100 million to the Committee. Besides, the companies end up spending upto four times that amount to execute its marketing campaigns alongside the Games. With so much money involved, the companies cannot be asked to turn saints and give up on selling what they sell. Therefore, it is upto the Committee to find alternative sponsorships or the general public to stand up against the fast food and soda companies. Unless that happens, the McDonald’s or Coca-Cola are likely to stay at the Games.