But corporate executives have few good options as they are pulled between the world’s two largest economies. Stay silent, and risk alienating consumers in places like the US. Pull back, and potentially damage their prospects in the vast Chinese market.
He described the upcoming Games as “an upside-down Olympics.”
“This is a very, very unusual year,” Chatterjee told CNN Business. “Typically at this time of the year, you know, all the brands are all agog with excitement because the Olympics is right around the corner … Instead, what you’ve found is that they’ve retreated into their shells.”
Mark DiMassimo, the founder and creative chief of DiGo, an advertising agency in New York, said sponsors appear to be downplaying their involvement, at least in the lead-up to the Games.
“You don’t see the typical promotion of their Olympics advertising in advance. You’d be typically seeing it at this time, and we’re not,” he said. “I think they’re trying not to make themselves the story.”
China, for its part, has called on the international community to “depoliticize” sports and warned that countries could “pay the price for their mistaken acts.” The Chinese government has also repeatedly and vehemently denied all allegations of human rights abuses.
But for businesses, the diplomatic firestorm set off a gigantic scramble, according to DiMassimo.
There were “lots of late-night Zoom calls and meetings as advertisers tried to figure out what to do,” he said, referring to the aftermath of the US boycott.
Coke did not respond, which was “disappointing,” Richardson said, arguing that the company was demonstrating “double standards.”
“But they won’t talk about the total…