We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

The Olympics and other sporting madness

I have always regardless the Olympics with indifference at best (I am not a great sports fan) but clearly the people organising the games in Athens are completely demented.

Strict regulations published by Athens 2004 last week dictate that spectators may be refused admission to events if they are carrying food or drinks made by companies that did not see fit to sponsor the games.

Sweltering sports fans who seek refuge from the soaring temperatures with a soft drink other than one made by Coca-Cola will be told to leave the banned refreshment at the gates or be shut out. High on the list of blacklisted beverages is Pepsi, but even the wrong bottle of water could land spectators in trouble.

These people would be funny if they were not so self-important. And from a PR point of view: message to the folks sponsoring the Olympic… rule number one is do not piss off your prospective customers. Morons.

And whilst on the subject of sporting madness, what I cannot understand is why the furore over well known lothario Sven-Goran Eriksson’s love life? So he has some hanky panky with a kiss-and-tell money grubber who happens to be female employee of the Football Association… so what? The guy is the coach of the England football team: he is in the sports business which means reasonable expectations of probity are surely somewhere between rock stars in hotel rooms and sailors on shore leave.

If there is any scandal here it is that Sven’s standards seem to be slipping: at the risk of being ungallant, ‘beauty’ Faria Alam is not quite of the same ‘calibre’ as Italian lawyer Nancy Dell’Olio or Ulrika Jonnson.

links via AdRants and the Big Blog Company

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrShare on RedditShare on Google+Share on VK

20 comments to The Olympics and other sporting madness

  • There’s another issue at stake as well. Given that the stadiums and the other venues are publicly funded, which I believe they are, one can’t really shut people out based on what clothes they ware or such things. The limit here would be the law in Greece, which probably restricts freedom of speech in some way already, but Pepsi logoes will probably be allowed.

    It would have been another case if the stadiums were privately funded. Then it’s up to the owners to decide.

  • what I cannot understand is why the furore over well known lothario Sven-Goran Eriksson’s love life?

    The reason is that it suddenly appeared, for one brief moment in a glorious mirage, to offer those in the FA and the media who are opposed to Eriksson a cheap and easy way to lever him out of his position as England coach. If he were sacked for gross misconduct, no compensation payoff would apply.

    The problem for the FA (and England fans) is that Erikkson is, at best, a mediocre coach whose failure at the European Championships, unlike similar French, Spanish, German and Dutch failures has seen him remain as coach with an improved contract. The salary the FA have been foolish enough to offer him approaches the sum of the salaries of all the other 15 coaches at Euro 2004 and is 14 times what the previous coach, Kevin Keegan, was paid.

    Prudery has little to do with it.

  • Grant Gould

    rule number one is do not piss off your prospective customers. Morons

    Um, who precisely do you think the “prospective customers” are? The Olympics sells product placement in its TV coverage; the sponsors are the customers. The actual spectators are the scenery, and obviously Coke doesn’t want to be buying product placement adverts which will have some schmuck with a Pepsi bottle in the background.

    It seems to me as though the Olympics are doing exactly what you suggest: It would clearly piss off their customers (eg, Coke) to allow non-customers (eg Pepsi) to sneak into the event (ie the TV coverage) and spoil their privileged position. That’s good customer service; I don’t see what there is for you to complain about.

  • Telemachus

    Well, it’s been oft said that the IOC is corrupt, and I think this is proof – from the article, they seem to have a paranoid belief that anyone choosing to bring items in other than that of the official sponsor is actively helping that firm advertise. At least, that’s what I thought they were talking about with ‘ambush marketing’. I suppose any Samizdatistas going to the Olympics might as well forget about wearing their Samizdata shirt..

  • James C

    The Olympic ad story has been knocking around for a while and has been taken a bit further than can be supported…

    As far as I am aware this “ban” is buried in the small print of the IOC T & C and is designed to prevent co-ordinated hijacking by rival brands rather than to prevent spectators from enjoying a Pepsi rather than a coke or wearing a non-sponsor’s brand of clothing. In essence you will have no problem as an individual but if say 50 people turn up in the stadium and all sit together plastered with rival brand logos then the IOC reserves the right to force them to desist.

    Furthermore, it is more likely that this condition was inserted in order to maintain the sponsorship value of the event for companies that are increasingly concerned about “brand hijacking” of sports events by non-sponsors. For example, Nike bought a lot of advertising around the World Cup even though Adidas was the sponsor – therefore gaining an association with the event on the cheap. The chances of a spectator actually being inconvenience by this “small print” are close to nil.

  • Joseph

    Who earns the Games more money: sponsors or spectators? It would be an interesting answer.

    Maybe in the future we shall see the Coca-Cola Olympics overshadowed by a rival games sponsored by Pepsi.

  • flaime

    I don’t expect the “ban” on non-sponsor foodstuffs and beverages will be much of a problem for people who are purchasing their goods at the olympic venues. After all, I doubt there will be non-sponsor products sold at those venues.

    But I’m not really sure why someone would want to drink the horribly sweet Pepsi beverage over a smooth mellow Coca-Cola…;)

  • Grant Gould: The Olympics sells product placement in its TV coverage; the sponsors are the customers. The actual spectators are the scenery, and obviously Coke doesn’t want to be buying product placement adverts which will have some schmuck with a Pepsi bottle in the background.

    Well, that’s exactly why advertising and sponsorships and mass media marketing sucks. If the real customer is not the potential buyer of the advertised product, the whole thing is insane. That is why the industry is in such dire state. They are dooomed, all dooomed.

    For those who are surprised by a summary dismissal of all things advertising check SMLXL(Link).

  • Would the owner of the rogue Pepsi bottle be allowed to bring it in if he removed the label? Seems reasonable to me…

  • Henry Kaye

    It’s high time that ALL international sporting events were abandoned. The events themselves have long since been devalued by the corruption and chaos that surrounds the promotion and the administration. Let’s get back to localised sporting events where there is no money involved and the competitors – winners and losers – retire to the local pub to celebrate the involvement.

  • flaime

    I doubt Henry’s desire will ever be realized. Money drives all entertainment and sport has for at least the past couple of decades, if not long, been considered primarily a form of entertainment. That is the root of what has been advancing the assault on the ameteur ideal in sport and eventually will lead to the establishment of acknowledged professional teams for things like the Olympics. I say acknowledge, because right now, Olympic athletes are professional athletes; we just have layers of rules and obfuscations to hide that fact from the public.

  • Guy Herbert

    Would the owner of the rogue Pepsi bottle be allowed to bring it in if he removed the label? Seems reasonable to me… You mean like the guy with the Gunpowder Tea? (See Nomination 9.)

  • Guy Herbert

    Don’t you think it might be the international element that’s corrupting, not professionalism? If spectator sports were accepted as merely entertainment, rather than as exaltation of the name of the collective, then there’d not be the same demand for the taxpayer to pay for it (whether via stadiums or the commandeering of nationalised tv time).

    Cut out flags and anthems and the only people watching the games would be those interested in the relevant sports and willing to pay for it themselves. Not nearly so many and most important not the huge captive audiences for sponsors.

  • Ernie G

    It’s not just the Olympics. The last time I went to the Florida State Fair, Coca-cola had “official” status, and Coke was the only soft drink available anywhere on the grounds. A local bottled water firm (Zephyrhills) had an exhibit, but they were forbidden to pass out free samples to visitors; not just free bottles, but even those little bitty cone-shaped paper cups from the water cooler.

    Anheuser-Busch had the same status, so no other beer than Budweiser was available, either. (I’ll spare you the Budweiser-canoe joke.)

  • Verity

    Dennis made a good point. But whatever. It baffles me that so many millions of people get suckered, every four years, into suddenly caring about who can jump highest, swim fastest or win at any other of these non-events. Who C-A-R-E-S? And it’s not even genuine athletics (I think calling them sportsmen is an overstatement). They’re all pumped up on drugs, and they train exclusively. They don’t have jobs. They’re professional competitors in the field of jumping, running, swimming in short bursts, or whatever. No one’s ever heard of most of them.

    The Olympics is, as others have mentioned, utterly corrupt. And all this phony ceremony is too tacky. All these teams from Ular Batan, Upper Volta and the Galapagos Islands. Oh, the brotherhood of man! It’s the animated equivalent of all that Soviet Union ‘heroic’ art.

    It is also beyond pointless, and I look forward to the day when it is not possible for a human to jump or run one nanosecond faster. But this is a great little earner and they know that this day will come, which is why they’re letting in non-sports like synchronised swimming. Soon it will be competitive manicuring and synchronised embroidery.

  • I am entirely relaxed about international sporting events taking place, and I watch them and I enjoy doing so. (I will no doubt enjoy the olympics). That is as long as they fund themselves, either through selling tickets, television rights or sponsorship. What I object to vehemently is the large subsidies they receive from the public purse.

  • Sandy P

    Ahh, but it is water in the bottle or something else???

    And I’m not talking alcohol.

  • Henry Kaye writes:

    Let’s get back to localised sporting events where there is no money involved and the competitors – winners and losers – retire to the local pub to celebrate the involvement.

    Quite right. I felt quite sorry for the manager of my local at the weekend when a match appeared on TV.

    His cry:

    “Why do I – a Rangers supporter – end up managing not one, not two, not three, but four Celtic pubs?”

    (He is still alive.)

  • Last year’s Cricket World Cup also saw people evicted for drinking the wrong brand of fizzy drink. Grant Gould made the point that the sponsors are the customers. In the case of the Cricket World Cup, most of the revenue came from sponsorship and television money. Since the event made a profit of $US194 million, it is hard to argue with success!

    I agree with Frank McGahon’s point about the Erikson affair. It’s just the FA is not particularly well run, and they bungled it.

    I doubt I will take much interest in the Olympics. But if people wish to do so, that’s fine. I simply objected to paying taxes to go towards hosting them when they were held in Australia, and I object to my tax dollars being wasted on funding the Olympic ambitions of Australian atheletes.

  • Johnathan

    I’m with Michael Jennings on this one. My objection is not to the sponsorship or commercial side of sport, it is to the use of taxpayers’ money to fund these events. Let the free market rein.

    Got to agree with Perry meanwhile about the daft Eriksson affair. Who ultimately gives a toss what the man does in his private life so long as he does a good job? The whole business is further confirmation of Britain’s immaturity on the subject of sex.

    As an aside, it is interesting that the three folk at the centre of the business — Eriksson, Palios and Alam all sound, well, not very English.