The Silver Lining for Olympics Sponsors

"The catastrophic earthquake that rocked China's Sichuan province has changed the entire tenor of the coming Olympics" -- and the shift is good for beleaguered Olympics sponsors. "Marketers such as Coca-Cola, McDonald's and Samsung have had their Olympic efforts to date tarred by protesters" concerned with China's poor human rights record, especially in Tibet, and its support of the Sudanese government. But those issues have been overshadowed by the Sichuan earthquake, which killed more than 55,000 people. "Many of the top Olympic sponsors have been among the most generous and aggressive in responding to the Sichuan crisis," according to Advertising Age. "Coca-Cola donated more than $3 million and gave more than 5.7 million bottles of water. McDonald's served 17,000 meals daily to earthquake victims, relief workers" and others. Public relations consultant David Wolf explained that China is "a big market, and companies, if you want to look at it cynically, want to be seen as making a contribution. But many of the people ... are genuinely shocked by the images coming out of Sichuan and want to do everything they can."