Editor's comment: Olympics sponsor brands must take some blame for bad press

Another day and another national newspaper has a pop at 'corporates' for commercialising the Olympics.

The cynical tone of a recent piece by Mail columnist Stephen Glover, in a rage at the idea of London 2012 sponsor brands' employees taking part in the torch relay, is now pretty much standard in press coverage of brands' involvement in the Games.

Can we blame the media for its distrust? So far, Olympics sponsors have been uncharacteristically shy about how their millions support the Games and the athletes. Lord Coe does his bit, and Procter & Gamble's 'Proud sponsors of mums' campaign deftly makes that connection between brand and the 2012 Olympics.

Camelot managing director Andy Duncan has spotted the gap, and feels emboldened enough to make the claim that the majority of sponsors have 'very little to do with the Olympics'.

Marketers know Duncan's claims are opportunistic. However, until McDonald's and its peers stand up and promote the benefit of their sponsorship, the public will remain in blissful ignorance. Hardly marketing gold.

Back to the future for Unilever
The latest step in Unilever's shift from logic to magic (page 5) has a retro feel about it. Those interested in advertising history will know that in 1899, the brand-owner set up an internal agency, Lintas, which eventually broke away.

Unilever's hiring of two senior in-house creatives is not of that ilk, but will this duo provide the internal catalyst that Unilever senior vice-president of marketing Marc Mathieu so passionately wants?

When Mathieu and his boss, chief marketing officer Keith Weed, made their 'more magic, less logic' rallying cry to agencies late last year, those in the know were sceptical of such a fundamental shift in Unilever's approach.

That call, from within a company whose conservatism has done its business no harm at all, helped Weed win The Marketing Society's Marketer of the Year Award on Monday night.

Now that Mathieu has put Unilever's money where his mouth is, will we see a flowering of its advertising, where the creative approach of Lynx and Dove become the norm across the board? We await, with high hopes, the proof of Mathieu's creative pudding.

Noelle.McElhatton@haymarket.com
Follow me on Twitter: @n_mcelhatton

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