Sponsorship income is a small piece of the Olympic funding pie, but exerts a disproportionate influence on the Games and on children’s eating habits
The Children’s Food Campaign today launches a report calling for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to re-examine its sponsorship deals and take a tougher approach to its food and drink sponsors in the face of rising obesity levels. The Obesity Games report finds that corporate sponsorship accounts for less than 10% of the total funding for the London2012 Games, and junk food sponsors contribute only around 2% of the IOC income. Yet sponsors like Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Cadbury’s are given an unrivalled platform to promote their unhealthy brands and products. The Children’s Food Campaign is calling for the IOC to set proper conditions on promoting healthy eating in their sponsorship deals, and for junk food brands to be excluded from sponsoring all sporting events.
The Obesity Games report reveals the Olympic-related marketing tactics of Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Cadbury’s, and how - even before a single medal has been awarded - they are already big winners of the Games. The report also criticises the increasing emphasis these companies place on “obesity-offsetting” – funding sports equipment and exercise schemes. This is just seeking to downplay the role diet has in obesity, rather than acknowledging that both increased activity and a healthier diet are vital.
Malcolm Clark, co-ordinator of the Children’s Food Campaign, said:
“The Olympics have become a celebration of big. For the junk food companies who sponsor the Games that means big restaurants, big audiences, big brand value, big profits. But for children that could also mean bigger waistlines and bigger health problems later in life. Yet the one thing about the Olympics which is not big is the proportion of revenue from sponsorship. The International Olympic Committee could choose to cut out the top-tier category of food and soft drink partners entirely, and lose little more than 2% its total income.”
“At every turn, the sponsorship of the Games - from the companies selected, to the terms of the deals agreed, to the way that they are implemented - seems to be set up to make the healthy choice a harder choice. It’s time that the IOC took responsibility for the effect of its sponsorship programme and made the necessary changes."
The Children’s Food Campaign will be launching a petition to Seb Coe, Chair of LOCOG, calling on him to make it clear in LOCOG’s official post-Games report to the IOC that accepting money from McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Cadbury’s – and the way the rights were exclusive and highly protected – was counter-productive to good public relations and to a positive health legacy.
Accompanying The Obesity Games report, the Children’s Food Campaign have produced an infographic illustrating the range and scale of the Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Cadbury’s Olympic marketing.
Amongst the facts revealed is that during the Games 10 tonnes of Big Macs and 150 baths-full of milkshake will be consumed. And if you laid all the fries expected to eaten end-to-end around the Olympic Stadium, they would go round the track 1015 times. The infographic can be viewed at www.childrensfood.org.uk from Thursday. A high-res version is also available and can be be requested by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Tell Seb Coe: thank you, but let's make the next Olympics a healthier one.
Add your name to our open letter to Lord Coe, asking him to acknowledge our concerns on junk food sponsorship of the Olympics and include those concerns within LOCOG's post-Games evaluation report. The letter and the list of signatories will be delivered to Lord Coe after the Paralympics.
Update 17 Sept 2012: This action has now closed. We have delivered the letter to Lord Coe, together with the list of signatories.
1) The Obesity Games is published by the Children’s Food Campaign. The report can be downloaded in pdf format from 26 July via the CFC website www.childrensfood.org.uk. Copies can also be requested by emailing email@example.com
2) The Children’s Food Campaign examined the marketing strategies of Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Cadbury’s before the Games and what they are predicted to do during the Games and as Olympic Caterers.
3) The Children’s Food Campaign is recommending:
(i) An Olympic Exclusion Order - the exclusion of junk food brands from sponsoring sporting events.
(ii) A ‘five-a-day’ special sponsorship category - for companies or brands that are healthier across their range.
(iii) The introduction of robust healthy eating standards - for all future Olympics and other major sporting events
(iv) Tightening up existing marketing regulations – to protect children from all forms of junk food marketing
A complete list of recommendations is listed in The Obesity Games report.
4) The Children’s Food Campaign aims to improve young people’s health and well-being through better food – and food teaching – in schools and by protecting children from junk food marketing. We are supported by over 150 national organisations and co-ordinated by Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming. For more information see www.childrensfood.org.uk