William Moss on Olympic opportunities and risks

Imagethief : Did the “Genocide Olympics” influence China?

There is a reason I read William Moss — aka The ImageThief — as closely as I do, and that is his honest appraisal of the way things are in China for marketers and communications professionals. As I am deeply involved in my company’s Olympic plans, and have tactic responsibility for our online brand and reputation, I take this seriously:

“… remember that the modern Olympics exists specifically as a propaganda vehicle (and here I include marketing as a kind of propaganda). The IOC may call it a “movement”, evoking images of grass roots participation and noble sporting ideals, but that is propaganda itself, designed to draw a graceful fig leaf over the reality that the Olympics is a vast business venture –reportedly US$4 billion in revenue over its previous quadrennial cycle– driven by sponsorships and advertising. Sponsors take the messaging opportunity seriously, as well they should considering what they invest.”China, hungry to be seen anew as a great power, had its own agenda in mind with the Olympics. Unfortunately for China, all the debate and controversy that swirls around its human rights, environmental and geopolitical issues is being dragged along in the Olympic slipstream. People have China axes to grind, and that beautiful Olympic fulcrum is too enticing to pass up. The 2008 Olympics was politicized from the moment it was awarded to Beijing, and will be more contentious than any games in modern memory. That’s a big deal considering the Olympics’ propaganda-splattered pedigree. In the PR industry we refer to the 2008 Olympics as “issues rich”, which is a polite way of saying, “watch this space for crisis”.”