The Corporate Olympics: “NASCAR With Accents”

A Coca-cola ad on the Berlin subway features exultant Tibetan monks on a roller coaster with the Coke slogan, “Make It Real.”F

Nationalism notwithstanding, the Beijing Olympics are becoming ever more problematic as a “branding” opportunity for multi-national corporate sponsors. This Coca-cola ad on the Berlin subway — featuring exultant Tibetan monks on a roller coaster with the Coke slogan, “Make It Real” — didn’t stay in Berlin. Chinese bloggers have organized a boycott to protest Coke’s apparent sympathy for Tibet. Coke is an Olympic sponsor.

Sports-curmudgeon Frank Deford nailed it in his NPR commentary yesterday when he identified the International Olympic Committee as a corporate cartel:

Only the IOC still calls itself a movement and gets away with it. Hey, it’s no more than an international cartel that puts on a big show every four years. It’s just NASCAR with accents. And to tell you the truth, I think the Olympics are yesterday’s party. Once upon a time, before globalism and jet airplanes and cyberspace, bringing athletes together quadrennially in one place might have made sense. Today, it’s an unnecessary excess. And while insular Americans might not understand this, the World Cup of soccer has become much more important to many more people in the world. Read more.

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2 Responses to The Corporate Olympics: “NASCAR With Accents”

  1. ms modigliani says:

    This is the part of the last section I talked about last night that left me with a HUH? from Frank Deford’s commentary:

    But hooray for all the Olympic athletes. Please, please, everybody, just threaten boycott, but let the athletes all go to Beijing and have their day in the smog. It was so unfair when, in 1980, President Carter sacrificed our Olympians to make a point against the Soviet Union.

  2. Mark Willis says:

    I think Deford’s talking about supporting individual athletes while boycotting the official actions of governments. I heard David Michael Lampton make the same nuanced argument on On Point yesterday: protest the Chinese government’s actions, but take care not to humiliate the Chinese people, or protest will drive them right into the government’s arms.

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