In an interview here about a week ago, Arvind Ganesan of Human Rights Watch criticized the twelve corporate “super-sponsors” of the Beijing Olympics, companies that include McDonald’s, Coke, and GE. “These twelve companies have given upwards of $866 million–an average of $73 million in shareholder money each–for the right to be called an ‘exclusive’ Olympic partner,” he said. “In addition to the $866 million, those companies are spending huge sums on advertising. None of them to our knowledge has made any type of effort to ensure that the government or the IOC fulfills the human rights commitments that were agreed to when they paid the money.”
Today’s New York Times has an interesting article about current corporate advertising campaigns:
It is becoming increasingly clear which nation global corporations will be rooting for at this summer’s Olympics: China. Or at least that’s what it looks like from advertisements here. McDonald’s is running a “Cheer for China” television ad. Nike ads feature China’s star hurdler, Liu Xiang, and other Chinese athletes besting foreign competitors. Earlier this year, Pepsi even painted its familiar blue cans red for a limited edition “Go Red for China” promotion.
The campaigns for Western companies are part of an advertising blitz the likes of which this ostensibly communist nation has never seen. Ads are papered over bus shelters, projected on giant outdoor television screens and plastered on billboards. Commercials even flicker at commuters as they zoom through subway tunnels. China, already the world’s second-largest advertising market, after the United States, is a dream for consumer product companies. “For most international brands here, China is the growth market for the next 10 years,” said Jonathan Chajet, strategic director at Interbrand, which consults on brands.