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Articles

Beijing Olympics Sponsors in the ESG Crosshairs

07 Feb 2022
   —  by Frank De Maria

At the end of last year, human rights activists stood outside the White House urging the US to stage a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics. A few weeks later, they got their wish.

Campaigners representing the people of Hong Kong, Tibet, and China’s Xinjiang region have been pushing US and Western companies to cancel their sponsorships of the Games or publicly condemn the repression Chinese authorities have carried out in those regions.

Former National Security Advisor General H.R. McMaster spoke on CNBC in October and asked how companies can claim to have an ESG strategy yet ignore the ongoing persecution of the Uyghur people in China’s Xinjiang province. Despite criticism from human rights groups, the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games will begin February 4th, and companies continue to funnel millions of dollars into advertisements and sponsorships.

The International Olympic Committee and multinational corporations, including Airbnb, Coca-Cola, Visa, and Toyota, have rejected the boycott. This raises the question, will brands face repercussions for engaging with the Beijing Olympic Games?

According to advertising and marketing executives, some brands are considering not including any references to the host city in their Olympic marketing efforts. Others plan to run non-Olympic-themed ads during the Games. Some are turning to public relations outfits to help navigate the politics surrounding the event. However, sometimes there may be no way to “spin” your way out of things.

Reputations can be destroyed in the blink of an eye, so it is vital for companies to communicate their core values to stakeholders and monitor what is being said in real-time. The team at Social360 has excellent experience managing crisis issues for clients and more than a decade of monitoring know-how. If you need help or have questions, please contact Alex Baker or Giles Brown or visit our website – www.s360group.com – for more information.

Frank De Maria