Wednesday, August 20, 2008

We're All Capitalists Now: Pepsi Goes Red

As Lefty sports righter David Zirin discusses on his blog , Pepsi has "gone red" for the Olympics. Zirin notes that this is the sort of ad that, in the odd event that it had been run thirty years ago, would have gotten you a visit from the FBI. But Pepsi knows where its potential markets are. Marketers consider the new consumers in China "unbranded" and thus open to commit themselves to Coke or Pepsi, Nike or Reebok. With the Olympics, the corporate battle for Chinese hearts, minds and wallets has begun.

It is quite clear that the main point of the Olympics is projecting images of national strength and progress--especially, this year, for China--and selling lots of shit via high priced, high visibility advertising. But in a weird twist in Chinese Government Olympics messaging, it has been revealed that the cute young girl (photo) who sang "Ode to the Motherland" during the Olympics opening ceremony was lip-sinking. Chinese authorities decided that the real singer, little girl Yang Peiyi, wasn't cute enough (photo inset). As any marketer will tell you, countries have brand images, too.

Finally, Naomi Klein has been doing some interesting work on how U.S. companies are using the Olympics to bypass post-Tiananmen Square bans on selling police and security equipment to China. The government has spent a whopping $12-billion on thousands of security cameras, iris scanners and internet monitoring tools for the Olympics. The equipment will stay in China after the games are over and be put to good use repressing increasingly militant labor and peasant protests. Cisco, General Electric, Honeywell and Google are some of the companies involved.

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