“Coca Cola has been an Olympic Sponsor for a long time. I do a lot of work with them. They fund a lot of my research....They focus on active healthy living.” Dr Steven Blair
Agents on alert!
At that time Tom Cruise was married to Nicole Kidman and if memory serves me her brother was employed at IMG’s Sydney office. Although (non IMG) sports agent Leigh Steinberg was a technical consultant on the movie, we all raised an eyebrow when the “Bob Sugar” character appeared as the bad guy - none more so than IMG supremo Bob Kane!
I loved that movie. Still do.
Cuba Gooding Jnr’s “Show me the money!!!” jingle was the takeaway moment - it was also the most accurate scene in the entire movie.
It is just as relevant today.
When IMG pitched a “property” - be it an athlete, model, singer, the Pope (true!), a kid called Tiger Woods or Wimbledon itself - the base formula was pretty simple. One Title sponsor (when naming rights made sense), a half dozen Official category exclusive sponsors (normally made up of soft drinks, cars, banks, credit cards, sports equipment, airlines, beers) and whatever you could get done after that in the less salubrious “Supplier” category.
With budgets to burn, Coca Cola were always in our sights. They would have had their own formula as well. Sponsor it for $X, then spend a visibility factor of $3,4,or 5 times X to support the message through ad placements and PR.
It is an understatement to suggest that the sponsorship industry has matured since my time. There are some incredibly smart people making some incredibly smart strategic decisions that we never thought of in the 90s.
The visibility dollars that were once the preserve of PR companies and advertising agencies now include “sleeper” cells consisting of scientists, medics, nutritionists and even full blown research institutes - take a bow whoever dreamt up the “Gatorade Sports Science Institute.”
Even Primary School children know that sugar is not a good thing, yet these Coca Cola sleepers would have us believe it’s all about energy balance and “getting active.”
Prof Tim Noakes has been very clear on this point. He says “exercise has incredible benefits, but weight loss is not one of them.” Cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra supports and endorses the metabolic benefits of exercise for all but weight loss. So too Dr Steve Phinney. That their recent article to this effect has irked one Dr Steve Blair into publishing a formal response is not surprising.
His non profit organization "The Global Energy Balance Network" echoes Coke's global anti obesity message almost verbatim. That they enjoy an unrestricted gift from Coca Cola is no more remarkable than Coke's Olympic sponsorship. It's just those visibility dollars doing their thing.
Thanks to Coca Cola, Dr Blair also had the opportunity to carry the Olympic Torch (see video above).
He’s now carrying theirs and I’m not buying it.
Nor should you.