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China's Earthquake Casts Olympic Sponsors In New Light

  • Ad Age, Wednesday, May 28, 2008 10:15 AM
The earthquake that struck China earlier this month has already had an impact on the marketing of the Olympics. Last week, the games' organizers subtly dropped the tagline for their heretofore controversial torch relay, "Ignite the passion, spread the dream," and replaced it with the more sympathetic "Spread the sacred flame, spread caring love."

But that could be just the beginning. Marketers such as Coca-Cola, McDonald's and Samsung have had their Olympic efforts to date tarred by protesters as kowtowing to a regime that already has a poor human-rights record and now is tolerant of the genocide in Sudan. The earthquake provides an opportunity for all these companies to focus instead on the humanitarian effort, which would be difficult for anyone to criticize.

The first steps have already been taken. Many of the top Olympic sponsors have been among the most generous and aggressive in responding to the Sichuan crisis. Coca-Cola donated more than $3 million and gave more than 5.7 million bottles of water. McDonald's served 17,000 meals daily to earthquake victims, relief workers, blood donors, hospital workers and police and fire officials.



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