Negative press can be a power for good, it seems.

Olympic sponsors Visa, Coca-Cola, McDonalds, EDF, Omega, GE, Adidas, BMW, Atos and P&G were all stung by the revelations that they were benefitting from a grubby deal with our customs and excise enforcers, courtesy of the sponsor’s good friends Lord Coe and Co, that they would be able to enjoy some lucrative tax avoidance on their donations, this paid for by the British tax-payer.

Shortly after an article, “The Great Olympic Tax Swindle” appeared in the July/August issue of Ethical Consumer magazine, and the publication organised an online petition signed by 225,000 taxpayers censuring the above firms for their lack of ethics and corporate social responsibility, the firms caved in and have all promised to waive their right to the tax avoidance offered, a promise that Ethical Consumer magazine will be checking they have all kept, next April when the companies release their annual financial reports.

There is, it seems, a lot of anger out there regarding the way our Olympics have been organised by LOCOG to suck up to rich sponsors, some of whom then get their money back from captive consumers. But it remains to be seen whether or not there is sufficient anger for consumers to further censure, perhaps by way of damaging boycotts, those firms that paid the Olympic organisers for a shabby licence to organise a profitable monopoly.

Watch this space?

(See also IN THE POCKETS Marketing Matters issue 27, July/August 2012)

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