Mar 30, 2012 at 06:19 PM
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Three Olympic Partners Who Feel A Bit Distant

The obvious problem for the IOC’s TOP sponsors (as opposed to Locog’s domestic partners) is striking the balance between global and local. Often the activation work around the Games can feel a bit distant, like its been ‘flown in’ from some global marketing department in a remote HQ.

Here are three that I’m finding it hard to love:

1. McDonald’s

This is not meant as a Mc rant particularly. And it’s not about the burgerfication of the Olympic ideals. It’s more that the messaging around London 2012 is so wrong. Has there been a more inept piece of PR this year than the announcement that Olympic Park would house the ‘World’s Biggest McDonalds‘?

Were they really hoping to be thanked for this?

2. Samsung

All the warmth of an ambush.

3. Visa

The whole Team Visa schtick is looking a bit tired don’t you think? The credit card brand’s great Olympic story was in the mid-1980s when it wrestled the TOP category from American Express. It was the thrusting new guy, taking on corporate America and winning. There was the feeling that here was a company that was trying really hard to do something new with the Olympics, using it to build the brand globally. Now it’s all a bit meh.

Oh yeah, and if you’re a Mastercard customer (ie half the population) your not welcome. Nice touch. Has the phrase ‘exclusive rights’ ever sounded so threatening?

But, it doesn’t have to be that way. There’s one TOP partner that strikes a glocal balance: Coke

They could just dial it in, given how long they’ve been coming to these shindigs. But they don’t, they keep the buzz going. This time its Mark Ronson and some clever social stuff. As Ronson said, talking about his specially commissioned Olympic anthem: “You have one shot, It has to be great.”

Sums it up really.

Richard Gillis writes for The Wall Street Journal in London, blogs at and allows us to publish posts here, when the subject fits. Follow him on Twitter: @RichardGillis1.

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