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Monday, 23 July 2012

The World's Biggest McDonalds

Let's say I own a billboard.

It's a nice billboard. It's somewhere that a lot of people will see it, daily. Many people will go past it. So what do I do with this billboard? Well, either I can put whatever I want on it, or, companies will pay me to put up their marketing on it.

That's fine, because they want their brand to be everywhere, they want people to be thinking about their brand subconsciously so that when it comes down to making a consumer choice about food / clothing / whatever, they will pick that brand without really making a weighted decision. So companies spend a significant amount of money trying to get their image everywhere, because it increases their sales.

But obviously, I can't just take my billboard anywhere. If it's being used for marketing, then I obviously can't take it to a place dedicated to the competitors of what it is marketing. That would be silly, right? And also contractually sticky. But then I agreed to adhere to that contract and those particular terms when I agreed to accept money to display marketing for a company on my billboard.

So it wouldn't make any sense for me to enter into an advertising contract with, say, Pepsi - and then show up at a a strictly-regulated Coca-Cola corporate event.

And this is why, if we are to be asked to regulate our clothing at the Olympics because it is so heavily influenced by corporate marketing, that we should be being paid to wear brand names, not the other way around.

That's the way it works, right? You enter into some kind of agreement with well-defined figures of how much you will get paid to market a product or display its brand name, and in exchange you are bound by their equally well-defined marketing regulations, however stringent they may be. Because, hey, you're being paid. So of course you accept the legal whatnots as to what you are doing to get you paid. It's why we sign employment contracts.

But until such a time as I sign such a contract and get paid for such an arrangement, you don't get to tell me what I can and cannot wear.

The last time I checked it's not grossly offensive or public disorder to wear a Rolex shirt in an event exclusively sponsored by Tag Heuer, it isn't a hate crime to wear a Pepsi shirt regardless of what is being sold wherever you are - and perhaps if I was wearing a security organisation's logo when I went in, I might actually be doing Locog a favour.

I understand that corporate sponsorship has granted a lot of money to the games - I believe the main sponsors contributed something like £2bn or so. And I truly want the games to go well - I want everyone to have a good time, I want the athletes to compete without problems, and I want the best to win. I know people attending and hope it is everything they want it to be. I'm not anti-Olympic in and of the games themselves - nobody is so naive as to think this world doesn't need more unity and brotherhood.

I just find myself wondering if this unity and brotherhood of man should be covered by McDonald's and Coca-Cola logos, and if it should exclude people wearing shirts the men in suits don't like.

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