Published on April 24, 2012

Should fast-food companies be banned from sponsoring the Olympics?

Medical advisors’ argue the wrong message will be sent out across the nation as Cadbury, McDonald’s and Coca-Cola are the main sponsors for the London 2012 Olympics.

With the latest research claiming almost a quarter of adults are obese, campaigners from the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC) say obesity is the “single greatest public health threat in the UK.” This figure points to the obvious question: why are unhealthy food companies allowed to sponsor the largest sporting event of the year?

The companies’ argument resides in the scale of the event, claiming that only such well-renowned, global brands can operate during the Games. To counter critics, statements from the companies themselves have suggested the following: Coca-Cola will “increase the marketing budget for our no calorie, zero sugar colas,” while a McDonald’s spokesperson said that “sponsorship is essential to the successful staging of the Olympics.” McDonald’s also plan to introduce campaigns focused on “activity toys” and vouchers for sport sessions, to prove they are conscious about the sporting side of the event and not just the millions of profit they will make.

On the other side of the spectrum, for the majority of us, the mix of fast-food companies and sport does not make any sense. Whilst we may not feel the need to grab a Mcd’s every time we switch on the TV during the Games, subliminal messages from the extensive advertising will be sure to lay in our unconscious. As Dr Jean Adams, a lecturer in public health at Newcastle University states, not only will the bombarding of adverts make consumer choice more difficult but it will also build on a society where fast-food has become the norm for many.

Professor Terence Stephenson, vice-president of AoMRC also highlights the dangers of the links between the Olympics and fast-food, stating: “Millions of people are going to see an association between these brands and highly successful athletes. Companies wouldn’t spend all this money on adverts if they didn’t think it would increase their sales”. He also argues for a ban on fast-food adverts, in the same way tobacco adverts have been banned, hoping that a similar approach will help tackle the obesity epidemic.

Negative effects on both our weight and the health of our teeth could be potentially increased during the run-up and the Games itself, creating cause for concern for us all. So we’d love to hear your thoughts, do you agree or disagree: should there be a ban on fast-food companies sponsoring and/or advertising the Olympics? Comment below or tweet us @stockdalemartin.


Have your say!

6 comments on “Should fast-food companies be banned from sponsoring the Olympics?”

  1. Disagree, people are responsible for their own choices, good or bad, not marketing giants.

  2. Drive Thru Guy on April 24th, 2012 at 10:18 AM
  3. Great to hear your response 'Drive Thru Guy' – I agree people do make their own choices but do you not think the choices that are made are somewhat influenced by these corporations/their advertising?

  4. StockdaleMartin on April 24th, 2012 at 12:57 PM
  5. I guess to an extent, yes, advertising does influence people's decisions, otherwise they wouldn't spend the obscene amount of money on it that they do. Having said that though, I'd relate it back to an early childhood lesson: If everyone else is jumping off a bridge, would you do it just because they are?

  6. Drive Thru Guy on April 24th, 2012 at 7:24 PM
  7. You make an interesting point, we aren't all sheep following the crowd or passively accepting all advertisements.

    But surely the whole idea of the Olympics is to encourage sport, health and fitness – these sponsors send the wrong message, to children in particular. They may believe because McDonald's is associated with a sporting event, it is somewhat healthy?

  8. StockdaleMartin on April 25th, 2012 at 9:18 AM
  9. I'll give you that! And I can't even argue parents need to monitor their children's television watching, because what's wrong with a child watching the Olympics? Nothing! Well played.

  10. Drive Thru Guy on April 25th, 2012 at 11:06 AM
  11. Indeed, nothing wrong with it! Let's hope these ads don't have too much of an impact on the kids..thanks for the comments. It's been an interesting debate, just had a read through your blog v.funny and honest! Keep up the good work

  12. StockdaleMartin on April 25th, 2012 at 4:55 PM

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