Corporate “Sin-Washing” – Embracing the Olympic Brand Pays Off for Sponsors
by Will Dooling,PRwatch –
Global corporations like Dow Chemical, Adidas, and McDonald’s are paying upwards of $100 million USD to sponsor the 2012 London games and associate themselves with the Olympic brand — but with their brands already well-established, what do corporations get in exchange for these expensive sponsorship deals?
According to Dave Zirin, sportswriter and columnist for The Nation, the payoff comes through “corporate sin-washing.”
“More than any other enterprise, if a company associates themselves with an Olympics, it really creates a positive feeling in the mind of the consumer,” he says.
But, “if you look at the main sponsors that the International Olympic Committee has brought on board, you see companies like Dow Chemicals, British Petroleum, McDonald’s, Adidas.” These companies, Zirin tells the Center for Media and Democracy, are some of “the worst corporate criminals” most in the need of an Olympic
“Official Chemical Company” of Olympics Refusing Bhopal Responsibility
Dow Chemical, the “Official Chemical Company” of the Olympics, is “really despised among large swaths of the community in the UK, because of Bhopal,” Zirin said.
The Bhopal disaster, the most deadly industrial accident in history, involved a 1984 leak of methyl isocyante gas from a Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, India that reportedly killed between 4,000 and 8,000 people and injured hundreds of thousands of others. The total number of deaths from ongoing contamination is now estimated at 25,000.
Although Union Carbide settled with the Indian Government for $470 million in 1989 (with victims receiving $1,500 per death and $500 per injury), critics allege that some 425 tons of hazardous waste remain on the grounds of the old factory and continue to poison groundwater. Dow Chemicals has since acquired Union Carbide’s assets but has refused to accept responsibility for its liabilities. Since late 2010, the Indian government has attempted to increase the compensation paid by Union Carbide to $1.1 billion), but Dow claims that it holds no liability or responsibility for Bhopal, and will not pay to compensate victims or clean up the still contaminated disaster site. Some have noted that the many millions Dow has spent on its Olympic games sponsorship might be better used helping victims of the Bhopal disaster.
Dow’s most visible contribution to the 2012 games is the creation of a massive decorative sheath that rings the Olympic stadium. But late last year, Dow agreed to remove their logo from the sheath after protest from the Indian Olympic Association’s Executive Board, which has vigorously opposed Dow’s sponsorship of the Olympic games. Read more…