Chip exclusion zone - have Olympic sponsors' rights gone too far?
Posted: 12 July 2012
McDonald's have been feeling the wrath of Olympic staff who are suffering under a chip embargo enforced by the big time fast food Olympic sponsors.
McDonald’s have negotiated a chip exclusion zone in the Olympic park where chips can only be served with fish unless they are served in a McDonald's restaurant. No pie and chips, no sausage and chips, no anything except fish and chips can be bought unless you are in a McDonald's restaurant.
This begs the question that If you are a company who decides to sponsor an event like the Olympics, how far should your rights extend? Those who sponsor sporting events have, in the past, tried to stifle competition at events by putting an embargo on rival brands and products. But is a generic ‘chip’ a serious rival to McDonald’s and a step too far?
This situation has been causing grief between those rehearsing for the opening ceremony and those providing food for them. Responses to the chip embargo have been angry. Notices have gone up at the lunch counters of the catering area saying "Please understand this is not the decision of the staff who are serving up your meals who, given the choice, would gladly give it to you, however they are not allowed to".
Seems crazy to me that a company like McDonald's needs to enforce this embargo on any other caterers serving chips (unless it is with fish). Is it not enough that their food, which is of questionable dietary and health benefit, is receiving (for a huge fee) a warm glow of association with all things sporting? It seems petty and silly for McDonald's to invoke such clauses. This can only be because they do not trust Olympic visitors to choose to eat in McDonald's if the magnetic attraction of chips is unleashed at other catering venues in the park. I didn’t realise before that chips were so powerful. Picture hungry sports fans in the fried snack’s grip, walking trance like towards that appointment with a battered sausage and ….. a portion of the all powerful chips. The whole story feels like one from the spoof BBC comedy Twenty Twelve and is surely not worthy of the venerable institution of the Olympics.
Shame on McDonald’s for coming up with this clause. Shame on the Olympic organisers for giving in to McDonald’s. There can be few finer pleasures in life than stuffing one’s face with a portion of fat, traditional, British chips dripping in vinegar while watching Usain Bolt make a dash for the line. Thanks McDonald’s for denying us this pleasure.
Apparently, according to the Guardian, the embargo has now been broken for Olympic staff with Locog reporting "It's sorted. We have spoken to McDonald's about it." Staff at the opening and closing ceremonies will be able to have chips with whatever they like or just good old chips on their own”. Hurrah!
However, spectators at the Olympics will not be so lucky – for them the embargo holds strong. That means no chips with anything other than fish anywhere else in the park unless spectators dine at McDonald's. I know there are more important things in the news to blog about and I may just be having a grumpy Thursday but surely this clause is attacking the fabric of British society and our love affair with a chunky chip. I am no fan of the thin and inferior ‘French Fry’ and don’t wish to see it replace our traditional chip at the Olympics I feel a Facebook campaign coming on. Who’s with me?