Thursday, August 9, 2012

Poster of the Week

Wir Rufen die Jugend der Welt
Klaus Staeck
Offset, 1988
Heidelberg, Germany
We Call to the Youth of the World

CSPG’s Poster of the Week demonstrates the long tradition of corporate sponsorship and the culture of consumerism that submerges and envelops the Olympic Games. The commercialization of the Games has caused the event, meant for the celebration of sport amateurism and conflict-free competition, into an advertisement orgy. Created in 1988, the renowned German graphic designer Klaus Staeck continued his politically charged satirical work and designed a poster that remains relevant as four of the five corporation logos replacing the rings seen in his poster are still official sponsors of the Games.

Sponsors have been a part of the Games since the inaugural 1896 event. Slowly evolving, the infusion of money into the 1984 Games in Los Angeles was the turning point for the Olympic movement. Led by the aggressive Peter Ueberroth, the Games’ financial success garnered the attention of the IOC and how they could benefit from the marketing revenue. By 1985 they established The Olympic Partner Program (TOP) to create a revenue vacuum where a select, and exclusive, club of highly invested corporations was formed. By doing so, it concentrated control over who was and will be making money from the Games. At the 2004 Games in Athens, the Greek government had already banned competitor ads on billboards throughout the city prior to the event and spectators at the venues were being vetted by security checking if they had any visible non-official logos not associated with the Games prior to broadcasting.

Today British locals are being bombarded by the official sponsors’ advertisements and clouding the event for television viewers as well. In London the British government, after the IOC’s insistence prior to awarding them the Games, is implementing the London Olympic Act 2006. It is an Orwellian measure to protect the TOP sponsors at all costs. Leading up to the Games, Olympic spooks have corralled such marketing threats to their corporate sponsors such as a local butcher, a baker, a florist and an 81 year-old woman selling hand knitted Olympic memorabilia for a fundraiser. There are currently hundreds of uniformed Olympic officials travelling the country to protect the brand of the Olympics and its sponsors. One of their main objectives is to quell guerilla/ambush marketing. In 2010 Seb Coe, the Chair of the London 2012 Organising Committee, wrote in the Official Brand Protection manual that these activities “undermine our ability to generate revenue for the Games.” This is in line with the IOC’s modern Olympics: the spirit of competition is limited to the sports field and suppressed in the business arena.

According to CNN’s Juliet Mann, “The Olympics (are) the second most valuable brand in the world, after Apple. They calculate the Olympic brand is worth more than all of its other major sponsors -- including Samsung, GE and Coca-Cola -- put together. They have valued the Olympics brand at $47.6 billion, an 87% increase since the Beijing Olympics in 2008.” And the International Olympic Committee (IOC) received $ 3.8 billion in television revenue for the 2010 and 2012 Olympic Games, an increase of 40% over the total for 2006 and 2008.

Pierre de Coubertin, the French aristocrat that reintroduced the Olympics for the modern era, would probably not recognize the Olympics as they are played today. It does not follow the ideal of laying down arms by all nations for a moment of peace to compete. The Olympic Games from 1940-1948 were cancelled due to World War II. The world is still rife with war and today’s IOC continues to make profits from controversial corporations also indifferent to the peace the Olympic rings symbolize. Five rings representing the five inhabited continents interlocked in peace. Staeck’s poignant criticism on the rings’ symbols still resonates today. Peace is being replaced by greed and the “call to the youth of the world” is leading them further away from the original ideals of the Olympic Games.


J. Gordon Hylton, “The Over-Protection of Intellectual Property Rights in Sport in the United States and Elsewhere,” Journal of Legal Aspects of Sports Winter 2011, vol. 21, no. 43.

Chrysostomo Giannoulakis, “Olympic sponsorship: evolution, challenges and impact on the Olympic Movement,” International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship July 2008, vol. 9, no. 4 (256-70).

Jay Scherer, “Olympic Villages and Large-scale Urban Development: Crises of Capitalism, Deficits of Democracy?” Sociology October 2011, vol. 45 no. 5 (782-79). 


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