Pressure is rising on the corporate sponsors of the Beijing Olympics. This week campaign group Dream for Darfur released their second school-style report on the activities of the 19 Olympic sponsors – 16 of whome have received a D or a ‘Fail’.
Campaigners have been demanding that sponsors of the “Genocide Olympics” exercise some corporate social responsibility, and their argument was particularly strengthened when Steven Spielberg stepped down from his association with the Games. This report highlights their responses, with a particular stress on the conflict in Darfur.
The Economist discusses this trend in corporate social responsibility; “As the row over corporate sponsorship of the Beijing Olympics shows, firms are increasingly expected to take a lead in promoting human rights”
Top of the class were Adidas and Kodak. The exec summary is :
• Kodak and Adidas each received a B+ for writing the UN and allowing those letters to be
made public, among other actions. We commend them.
• McDonald’s received a C+ for taking a private action, of which it showed evidence to our
• General Electric and The Coca-Cola Company received a D. Neither took action in regard
to bringing security to Darfur; their grades reflect what appeared to be significant concern with
the issue and an effort (unsuccessful) to take an action. Rather than take action about Darfur,
Coca-Cola took aim at the Dream for Darfur campaign.
• Johnson & Johnson, Lenovo, Microsoft, Samsung and Visa received a D-. These
companies received a grade slightly higher than outright failure because they met with our
campaign. Notably, Samsung sent two executives to New York from South Korea for a
meeting with us.
• Nine of the remaining sponsors received Fs for a poor response or none at all. They
include: Anheuser-Busch, Atos Origin, BHP Billiton, Manulife, Panasonic, Staples,
Swatch, and Volkswagen. UPS, although it made a sizable contribution to humanitarian aid in
Darfur, did not advance our goals.
As the economist point out, this is a relatively new trend in demanding responsible behaviour of brands. In many cases these days large corporations are more fearful for their image than governments, and this strategy may prove more fruitful to campaigners than lobbying governments.