Lapping Up the Sponsors

As soon as I arrived, I was entirely prepared for the sponsors to be overloading me with marketing mayhem as soon as I entered the London 2012 Olympic Park. But, in actual fact, some of them take some effort to find. Each seems to be restricted to a single booth (albeit a very large booth) somewhere in the vast park making them far less pronounced than expected.

So, twiddling our thumbs before something interesting came on the big screen, we went for a little explore. The first bizarre thing about these booths is that they make you queue, just to make you feel more like a sucker. Not only are they going to bombard you with promotional material, but you will have to wait patiently for it to happen. You stand outside and, when someone comes round to keep you cheery, you have to ask them what you are actually waiting for.

The places operate in shifts, so after about ten minutes we were let into see the official computers and have some strange 3D man jump out at us. The official TV company gave us all heavy 3D glasses and made us watch advert after advert promoting their technology. I might have seen their slogan more than a dozen times, with the day’s Olympic highlights we had come to see limited to under a minute (and it was yesterday’s highlights).

But the prize for the strangest experience belongs to the official beverage provider. This brand has recruited dozens of young dancers, actors, musicians and theatricals to sweep you through their interactive experience. Breaking through the mask, you discover that these poor people have been performing the same 10 second routine repetitively for 8 hours and they are kept going on the sugar from the fizzy drinks alone. As you creep up the building, encountering more and more delirious people along the way, you get to touch parts of the building to make strange noises. As a reward for putting up with crazy employees, you do get a picture with the Olympic Torch at the top. Descending into the middle of the building, ‘future flames’ pop out from the dark with free drinks and move around trying to create a club atmosphere where everyone in a branded t-shirt is having a party and the rest of human kind is stood on the outside looking confused.
I don’t know what to make of everything. Part of me is impressed with their imagination, part of me is bemused as to why all this effort has gone in to try and make me buy an extra can of carbonated drink or a less than capable laptop. In two years time, when I subconsciously associate dancing in a club with the most recognised brand in the world or a space man with a tablet, all this fantastic fluff will have been worthwhile.