Olympic Sponsorship Under Public Scrutiny
26 February 2014 at 8:33 am
The corporate social responsibility reputations of some of the world’s corporate giants are under threat from association with politically-charged major sporting events.
Figures suggest a significant proportion of social media buzz surrounding major corporate sponsors of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics was critical of their failure to address public health and Lesbian, Gay, Bi and Transgender (LGBT) issues.
Global social media agency We Are Social analysed worldwide English language conversation on social media platform Twitter between 7th and 18th of February, finding that worldwide roughly one third of McDonalds’ sponsorship mentions were over obesity and LGBT issues.
“…the disparity of the association between a fast food company and a sporting event plagued it…Unlike its rivals, it failed to convince a significant proportion of the public of its legitimacy to be involved in the conversation,” Ed Kitchingman, We Are Social, R&I director, said in the agency’s analysis.
Negativity was particularly strong In the UK, where criticism of sponsor involvement in the Games was the dominant topic of social media conversation.
“…a lack of proactivity addressing concerns prior – and during – the Winter Olympics arguably helped exacerbate an already sensitive situation concerning gay rights, enabling criticism to proliferate into negative headlines and, in some cases, even turned into a call to boycott products,” Kitchingman said.
In the country, four fifths (81 per cent) of Coca-Cola’s social mentions referred to the brand’s refusal to address concerns over host country Russia’s anti-gay stance.
Only 2 per cent of social chatter was positive about the soft drinks giant, and 2 per cent linked the brand to obesity.
Similarly, 77 per cent of Visa’s mentions linked the brand to LGBT issues, a figure that rose to 88 per cent for McDonald’s, while 10 per cent of chatter was about the fast-food giant and its links to obesity concerns.
The Olympics and other major sporting events such as the FIFA World Cup and Commonwealth Games continue to drive media discussion of CSR issues, spanning from labour rights and the environmental impacts to fast food sponsorship and now the political views of host countries.
The Guardian recently reported that over 500 Indian migrants working to prepare Qatar for the 2022 World Cup have died since the beginning of 2012, taking the total number of deaths in preparation for the event to 974.