I think I’ve become confused about sponsorship. The word. What does it mean?
This is what I thought:
• Sponsorship is when a person or organisation provides funds for a project or activity carried out by another.
• It is the contribution toward or payment for the running of an event in exchange for advertising.
• It is a pledge to donate a certain amount of money to someone or an organisation after they have done what they said they would do.
• Or perhaps it is someone who takes responsibility for the actions of someone else; a kind of deferred responsibility (that is the cost).
In other words, my understanding of sponsorship is that you give money (or support) so that someone else can do something they want to do, or believe in, or simply so that they can function in the desired manner.
In return the sponsor might get space to advertise, invites to unique events and a special place in the heart of the thing they have sponsored. It does not however give the sponsor the mandate to CONTROL that to which it gives financial support. It is not paying to control, rather it is a somewhat dormant payment.
So this is the point at which I become confused:
The apparent prevalence of event ‘sponsorship’ by companies with vested interests and special perks.
Take the Olympics.
Big companies sponsor the Olympics. That’s fine. It needs to be paid for, it is after all a good thing, isn’t it?
So companies foot the bill in exchange for advertising. In the same way a football team gets money from a company in exchange for a logo on the shirt, and around the stadium etc.
It is not sponsorship however when these companies actually shape the look, feel and experience of the thing they are sponsoring, especially when it happens to the negation of all competition.
When McDonalds ‘sponsor’ the Olympics it doesn’t mean they give money and get their name put places, it means they have exclusive monopolistic rights to the selling of food in the designated Olympic areas. Likewise Coca Cola, (+ others) – they are purchasing the right to a monopoly with regards beverage exclusivity in the market place. That is not sponsorship it’s an abuse of power.
These companies don’t care about the Olympics or the IOC other than the large amounts of money they can secure as a result from it. They only believe in their own ability to profit from the situation. That’s not sponsorship.
These companies buy the exclusive rights to the use of five coloured rings too. Sponsorship is their purchasing of a ‘branding logo’ and Coca-Cola as official main sponsor of London 2012 controls it’s use – yes that’s right, a trans-national unhealthy drinks company essentially owns a picture of some circles that no one else can use and they will sue you if you display it. They have bought control from the International Olympic Committee – they are not just sponsors.
They have paid their money, they have a monopoly on where they are selling their product and they get to use the Olympic rings, which is valuable because it has been made illegal (breach of a contract not signed by anyone other than these companies and Olympic bodies) to position five coloured rings in a certain way, or to even USE the world Olympic and any variation thereof on any commercial, public or simply visible space. See this article.
The Olympic organisers want the people of Britain to get on board with this very expensive little venture. But when they do they are threatened with legal action. How can people seriously get annoyed and start calling others unpatriotic when the public stand up and say that this whole thing is a farce. I love the Olympics, it is one of my favourite sporting events, and that’s why I care about this corrupting shadow cast by its organisation.
Andy Mort is a UK based musician and writer. He is the founder of Sheep Dressed Like Wolves: a Blog and Podcast helping introverts and highly sensitive people recognise and embrace their creativity; and identify what is holding them back from living with the passion, purpose, and meaning they seek in a sometimes overwhelming world.