COMMENT: McOlympics? That’s fine with me
Who cares if the Olympics are sponsored by Coca-Cola and Cadbury? The critics of London 2012’s fast-food funders can go take a running jump, writes Rob Lyons in this provocative piece... [The pic shows off McDonald's new Olympic uniform, with designs inspired by the hit TV show, Mad Men]. ‘It’s very sad that an event that celebrates the very best of athletic achievements should be sponsored by companies contributing to the obesity problem and unhealthy habits.’ So said Professor Terence Stephenson, spokesman for the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, on a medical war against fast-food sponsorship of the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Britain’s medical doctors - or the bigwigs who represent them, at least - are far from alone in pointing to the contradiction between the Olympics as the pinnacle of human physical prowess and the fact that the Games are being part-funded by the sponsorship of companies whose products are held responsible for obesity, heart disease, cancer and type-2 diabetes, including McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Cadbury.
Nor is it just about money. At the heart of the Olympic Park is the biggest McDonald’s restaurant you are ever likely to see, seating 1 500 burger-and-fries munching punters, while all the soft drinks on site will be Coca-Cola brands and the only branded beer will be Heineken.
In the Observer recently, columnist Catherine Bennett offered this jaundiced view of the London organising committee (Locog) and its approach to funding the Olympics: ‘If the Games have a message this time around, it is to forget the endless miserabilism of Jamie Oliver, Michelle Obama, the Danish nanny state and even, for God’s sake, New York’s soda-hating Mayor Bloomberg, and accept Locog’s preferred maxim: obesity for all… With sponsors like McDonald’s, Coca-Cola – awarded sole rights to all the park’s branded non-alcoholic drinks – and Cadbury, “official treat provider to the 2012 Olympics”, there is good reason to believe the fatness legacy of these Games will last, like the financial damage, for generations.’
Essentially, doctors, nutritionists and commentators seem to believe that the mere sight of those McDonald’s ‘golden arches’ is enough to turn us into salivating hordes who won’t be satisfied till we are chomping down on a feast of saturated fat, with a side order of coronary-inducing confectionery and a super-sized portion of fizzy diabetes juice. In the fairytale world of health campaigners and liberal columnists, the masses are stupid, child-like drones being force-fed lethal products by heartless, malevolent corporations.
Let’s face it: sponsorship is always a bit weird. The Olympics really will be the greatest show on Earth and big corporations like the idea of having some of that glory rub off on them, even if that ends up with them adopting such bizarre taglines as ‘official treat provider’. We all know the Olympics doesn’t really need an official treat provider any more than it needs an official payment services provider, an official human-resources provider or any of that other guff. It’s just advertising, folks.....
Caption: To mark the Olympics, McDonald's has debuted its new UK uniform... out goes the muddy chocolate look to be replaced by mustard and gherkin green, with aprons made from recycled plastic.
Last year, McDonald's appointed, founder of , to replace the dull black and mocha combo created in 2008 by the then royal dress designer , giving him "carte blanche" to design a new look.
Whether the new uniform – which will be first worn at the chain's four new restaurants on the Olympic site – is an improvement is debateable. The mustard and "gherkin" green colours which dominate are certainly brighter than muddy chocolate, replicating the "fresher" colours and image of the newly redesigned restaurants.
Hemingway has ditched the traditional American-style baseball cap in favour of tighter fitting "jockey caps" with smaller peaks. His inspiration for the look – which features skinny ties for male managers, pencil skirts for the female managers, and Fred Perry style polo shirts – was the US television programme Mad Men, set in the 1960s.
All staff will get the uniform free of charge, and it will be introduced in all 87,500 UK restaurant staff in the autumn.
The company claims to be the first in the UK to commit to introducing a "closed loop" recycled uniform, made from as few products, either biodegradeable or recycled, as possible. In a move spearheaded by Hemingway's upcycling company, this will apply initially to the new-look, longer aprons, but it hopes that eventually all the uniforms will be completely recyclable, with no textiles at all going to landfill.