Olympic Ambush Analysis – Part 6: I Hope You Don’t Want Fries with That

Fries smallerYou can’t get fries without fish at the fish and chips shop in the Olympic Precinct. You can’t get fries with anything else. The only place you can get fries in the Olympic Precinct is at the world’s biggest McDonald’s. Why? Because McDonald’s insisted on having exclusive rights to serve fries.

Really, McDonald’s? Were you really that scared that people being able to get a hot chip somewhere else would undermine your brand sanctity? Was it worth it? Because from here, I can’t see how having hundreds of media outlets, and many thousands of social media pundits, taking the crap out of your selfishness is doing a lot for your brand.

(Yeah, I know… in my previous post I defended McDonald’s right to be a sponsor. I did not, however, say they got it right.)

But while that really crossed the line from rights protection to are-you-bloody-kidding-me, that’s nothing compared to BT.

BT (British Telecom) apparently set up the UK’s largest wi-fi hotspot, with 1500 access points. But rather than offering it for free, which would have been smart – even if just to their own customers – they charged £5.99 per 90 minutes. If that was it, they would have been treading that very fine line.

But no, they swan dived over it by having wi-fi hunters swarm the area looking for other wi-fi signals. If you have 3G on your phone, go ahead and use it, but don’t you dare use the 3G you paid for on the device you paid for to provide a private wi-fi link to your laptop (another device you paid for), because that’s against the rules. In a previous post, I referred to the rights protection attitude as the Games thinking they own you. I really should add another line:

We own you so much, your own technology can’t even talk to each other.

With the gold standard for sponsorship being win-win-win – the sponsor wins, the property wins, and the target market wins – watching LOCOG and the brands collude to create one “lose” after another for fans is nothing short of depressing.

Great sponsorship makes people feel good – understood, respected, empowered. It adds value to the experience that those people are trying to have, positioning the sponsors as a welcome and valued part of that experience. Great sponsors are talked about for all the right reasons.

These are not stupid sponsors. Why do they think this rampant selfishness is going to build their brands? Has the Olympic Family fallen victim to Stockholm Syndrome? Only time will tell, but the fallout from this will be significant, far ranging, and ugly. How ugly? Stay tuned for my upcoming assessment.


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