Joey Barton: The tail is wagging the dog at the Olympics
I was flabbergasted when a local baker in London was to be banned from selling ‘Olympic doughnuts’ as it was seen as a clear breach of the IOC guidelines.
Everybody was gripped by Olympic fever, me included. I understand that the Games are not cheap to deliver on, but the long-term benefits are massive.
However, where do we draw the line? The sponsors deserve value but it is getting ridiculous when a local baker cannot make an extra few quid by being relevant and reactive to the market place.
Let these guys make hay whilst the sun shines, or risk a total monopoly. These people are the real workers in our culture, a living representation of our heritage. If they can make an extra few bob at the Games, then great.
The Olympic Games is hardly a showpiece that you can knock up overnight. Investment is crucial; planning and preparation endless. The sponsors have poured their money into the Games and rightly should have maximum exposure, but it stinks of 1984 when you cannot enter one of the arenas in a Pepsi T-shirt as Coca-Cola are a sponsor and Pepsi are a competitor.
Come on now, have we really sold our souls? That is hardly guerrilla marketing. I imagine the overweight bloke standing in the crowd with his Pepsi T-shirt on – is he seen as a brand ambassador? Surely it has just the opposite effect. Now, as I am sure you will be aware, I am no marketing expert, but for fuck’s sake…
McDonald’s were a sponsor, ironically. I cannot see their calorie-filled burgers
being great for the aspiring athlete, although if Usain Bolt eats a McNugget before he races then we all should, shouldn’t we? As I write this, I wonder if the Olympic police will be knocking my door down tomorrow for talking about the blackout, blacking out the blackout, so to speak. Big Brother, are you listening?
I understand that guerrilla marketing is ripe and valuable. I am smart enough to understand that it can be powerful, but it really gets on my nerves when the innocent, hardworking business owner cannot earn some extra money on the back of the Games.
After all, it is smart on their part: they are reacting to the marketplace, doing something that many retailers refuse to do these days. The Olympics are here: sell as many doughnuts as you can, in my book, and call them what you like.
Ah, but then McDonald’s may sell fewer burgers and they have put money into the pot, so doughnuts are a no-go for the baker. Lord Coe suggested that visitors wearing Nike trainers “would probably be allowed in”.
Come on, pal, we are in a recession. Consumerism has gone bonkers when you have to turn up at the venue in a pair of Adidas trainers as they are the sponsor. It is Orwellian, and frankly it is bonkers.
Maybe that is why they had Dizzee Rascal involved in the opening ceremony: subliminal messaging about how crazy the marketplace is. Big businesses can survive, small businesses cannot benefit. I am sure that Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Adidas did an ROI study before they committed to sponsoring the Games. It is not like they are just putting the money in for the greater good. They are businesses.
The tail does not wag the dog but here it seems that it is, with the sponsors having far too much power during the Games.
Now, I do not expect us to run a Games without sponsors. It is impossible to put the showpiece on without investment, and there are bills to pay. However, I cannot help but be disgusted when the local baker loses out on a few extra quid when the large corporations can pay and ride it into the night.
There needs to be balance as there is enough of a pie for everyone to win. After all, it is not often that the Olympic Games comes to town.
Joey Barton plays for QPR. @joey7barton