There is an article this morning in the Wall Street Journal entitled Big Sponsors Are Upset Over Visibility at Olympics. Basically, a number of the official sponsors have spent millions of dollars on building corporate experiences at the Olympic Green. These experiences are designed to have the folks walking around Beijing interact with the company in some way. In prior Olympics, the foot traffic to the Green has been massive and the partners were expecting 200,000+ visitors a day. One problem: the Chinese, always security conscious, have limited visits to the Green to those holding event tickets, thereby making the traffic actually showing up at these very expensive pavilions about 20% of what the partners were expecting. Doh!
I’ve always believed that contracts were less important that relationships. That said, how is it possible that this issue wasn’t discussed and documented, either with the Chinese or the partners? Who thought it was a good idea to rely on prior practice (“Gee, we’ve always given people unfettered access”) in a country where things are not always what they seem and a government that is going to do things its own way, period?
It’s one thing when the IOC tells the press that there will be no censorship of the internet by the Chinese and there is – the press isn’t paying the bills. It’s quite another when the folks who ARE paying the bills get screwed. My favorite quote:
“Here in Beijing, there have been a few who have requested that more people be admitted into what are known as the ‘Olympic common areas’ and the organizing committee has been working to find appropriate means of doing this, which we welcome,” said IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies.
I know from working with a few other international organizations that this is the polite way to say “buzz off” so maybe the relationship thing isn’t working either (obviously there isn’t anything in a contract). The games are over soon – every day counts to amortize the investment. Lost sales aren’t coming back. Maybe the sponsors aren’t either!