/ Travel & Leisure

Olympic Games sponsors – gold medal or wooden spoon?

Past Olympic Games have attracted billions of viewers and are an advertising manager’s dream. But are the sponsorship ‘partners’ any good? I decided to take a wholly unscientific look to find out.

There are many Olympic Games sponsors, ranging from BMW to Lloyds TSB. And though we might not have much to say about Adidas or BP here at Which?, we have reviewed products from many of them.

So let’s have a look down the list of Olympic sponsors to see how they perform.

British Airways: BA is a Which? recommended provider for credit cards, but it doesn’t do quite as well in its core market. As a long-haul airline, BA scored a Which? member rating of just 57%, which is mid-table and far behind the 89% reached by Singapore Airlines.

Medal hopes: A lap behind the high-flyers.

EDF Energy: In our customer satisfaction survey, energy provider EDF scored just two out of five stars for value for money. Its overall score of 43% is around half that of the best-performing provider.

Medal hopes: Lacklustre performance.

Samsung vs Panasonic: This is the race to watch. Both of these manufacturers have a range of TVs in our Best Buy tables, as well as high-scoring products in other tech areas. Panasonic was a hit in our 2011 Which? member satisfaction survey, coming top for most tech product categories (from TVs to digital cameras).

However, Samsung won two Which? Awards last year for Best Home Audio-Visual Brand and Best Portable Media Brand.

Medal hopes: Both are clear gold-medallists, but Samsung tops the overall medal table.

Acer: Acer has five Best Buy laptops and a high-scoring netbook in our tests. It doesn’t do so well with its desktop models though, and its tablets are so-so.

Medal hopes: Possible gold in individual races, but won’t get off the blocks in others.

BMW: BMW is the highest-rated German brand for sales and service with Which? members, but its overall brand satisfaction score puts it mid-table.

Medal hopes: Possible bronze, depending on track conditions. Could perform better in the 2014 European Athletics Championships in Zurich.

BT: BT scores less than half marks in both its home phone and broadband Which? rating, leaving it towards the back of the pack.

Medal hopes: Struggling to get off the blocks.

Lloyds TSB: Lloyds TSB offers the best-value bank account if you’re always in credit, but it’s below average for customer satisfaction. Credit cards from Lloyds-owned brands Halifax and Bank of Scotland appear regularly in our Best Rate tables, but all Lloyds brands score poorly for customer service for credit cards, savings and mortgages.

Medal hopes: Not a crowd pleaser, but could do well in individual races. Likely to drop the baton in a brand-wide relay race.

Why do companies pay to sponsor the Olympics?

From the advertisers’ side it’s easy to see why companies sponsor the Olympics. Visa, for example, is the only card payment method accepted, so as well as gaining valuable advertising exposure, it will make direct profits from more people using its cards.

Manufacturers like Panasonic and Samsung will enjoy an uplift in sales to those watching the Olympics at home on TV, while Adidas has an obvious link to the biggest sporting event in the world. Sponsors will also benefit from the ‘halo effect’ of being associated with the Games.

But we all need to be cynical: if Which? testing and member reviews tell us that a particular company offers poor products and services, sponsoring the Olympics isn’t going to fix that.

Will Olympics advertising make you more likely to buy a particular brand? And do you think I’ve misjudged a particular sponsor’s chances in the race to the podium?


It’s laughable that ATOS are sponsoring the Paralympics given what they are doing to disabled people in this country.

Which? might be happy with Panasonic but I am not. Yes they make some good products but some are disappointing, A company of this size should either focus on a more restricted range of products or getting people to test their products before release. As it stands they could both win and lose the race. 🙂

You forgot to mention the council tax payers of London, forced to sponsor the Olympics. [ why didn’t Ken ask Londoners first and legitimise his raid on their tax coffers?]
In return for being told that they have to pay this money they are also told they cannot connect any advertising to the Olympic event, or even for [the few lucky ones] renting out rooms etc…. they will be liable for tax, or in some instances will be prosecuted by the local council.

Whilst I am all for great sporting event, we can now see that the Olympics is run as one great rip off for the politicians and their business cronies. They even have the cheek to ask for unpaid volunteers to help run the event they are lining their pockets from.

And they are still bulling us all about the Olympic legacy, which is already proven to be nothing but hot air.

Bob says:
22 April 2012

I agree with M.
The Olympics is just a vehicle for the big corporations to advertise and make money. Even David Cameron was allegedly somewhat perturbed at some of the conditions imposed on GB by the Olympic Committee (tax breaks etc.) Accepting sponsorship from the company who took over Union Carbide (the Bhopal disaster) and team GB being kitted out in gear made in Asian sweatshops for Adidas shows you where the priorities lie.
What a disgrace……..Lord Coe and his cronies should be ashamed.

Seen in Sainsburys a lot of fadded looking Olympic Items, they look cheap and nasty, red/white, blue/white, very fadded awfully high prices, and makes me ashamed to be British if that is the offering souvenirs for tourist, I have seen better in some of the poorest countries with tourist shops if fact 98.5% better looking/quality.

If you want the truth behind the great Olympic con, then take a look at this article in Vanity Fair.