18 August, 2008

The Intern Sweatshop: No Gold Medal For the Golden Arches

Olympics advertising is perhaps even more cutthroat than the annual media circus that is Super Bowl commercials. Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou got a reported $300 million to organize the Opening Ceremonies , and if you saw, they pulled out all the stops. Don’t worry, there haven’t been any wardrobe malfunctions (yet).

But when the Games aren’t on, it’s when commercials use the Olympic spirit to sell cameras, phones, and Oreos. Intercut with shots of the world’s finest competitors, either running the track or pole vaulting or back stroking. That’s all fine; I love me some doublestuffs, and it makes me kind of proud to buy something for the betterment of the world.

But then McDonald’s pulls the big one:

Right. Because no Olympic athlete’s diet is complete without a Big Mac and fries. I’m guessing Morgan Spurlock is going to try out for the decathlon in London ’12?

Of course, with the grueling training sessions these athletes endure, it’s likely they need orgasmic amounts of calorie intake, and a value meal will put over a thousand of those suckers in you right quick. For example, according to several sources Michael Phelps takes in nearly 12,000 calories a day. Do they all need to be deep-fried or sugar-laced though?

If that isn’t enough, the Beijing 2008 website also lists Snickers and Budweiser as commercial partners. You know, so the athletes are covered for their pregame sugar boosts and postgame “R&R,” respectively. Of course, that must be why.

Oh well, McDonald’s being the worldwide institution it is, would definitely not be absent from the Games. However, they are showing all the Olympians enjoying their Big Macs together, like kids in the school cafeteria. Well, let’s just hope one of them brought a healthy yogurt or bean sprout sandwich to trade.

In the end, I understand that’s smart advertising. 39.5 million viewers tuned-in to watch Michael Phelps swimming the 200-meter butterfly last Tuesday, and 39.9 million watched Phelps win his eighth gold medal in the men's 4X100 meter medley relay Saturday night. And that may not even include the many who watched on the Times Square Jumotron and the more than 70,000 (ed. note: Minus 55,000, give or take. But who's counting, right?) who watched from M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md., Phelp's home town.

But it still puts a bad taste in my mouth (pun intended, have you eaten at McDonald’s recently). Then again, I’m not sprinting the 400 meter individual medley after wolfing down a Quarter Pounder. If you’re feeling the irony as well, wash it down with this Coca Cola ad. Yes, it’s still selling a product through the Olympics, but at least this ad makes an effort to promote cultural understanding and not world-class athletes hawking burgers or chicken sandwiches with 1000+ mg of sodium…and pickles.

--Aditya Desai, Intern

Previously fabricated under duress in the Intern Sweatshop: Missile FAIL.

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