Are the Olympics a waste of money, asks Economist ad campaign


Tickets for the London Olympics 2012 go on sale today for the first time, and The Economist takes good advantage of the timing and attention to launch a poster ad campaign on the London Underground that brings into sharp focus the matter of how much this Olympics tournament is costing the country, meaning each one of us (£350 each, says The Economist).

The question of costs has been a discussion focus ever since London won the rights to hold the games next year. As The Economist notes in its poster, costs have doubled from the original estimate.

So a thorny topic on which to stimulate more discussion, very nicely balanced by The Economist also running a pro-Olympics campaign, says The Guardian – I can’t find an example of a poster anywhere: would love to see one – in a concise report, below, that explains the campaigns and what they hope to achieve.

Meanwhile, I’m entering the ticket lottery hoping to get tickets for the opening ceremony. Being at an Olympics in London is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I’d love to experience it.

(The Guardian’s report is published here with permission via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.)

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Powered by article titled “Are the Olympics a waste of money, asks Economist ad campaign” was written by Mark Sweney, for on Tuesday 15th March 2011 07.25 UTC

As tickets go on sale for the biggest sports event in British history, the 2012 London Olympics, the Economist is launching a major ad campaign suggesting that the event is a “waste of money”.

The Economist has a history of running provocative poster campaigns, such as those last year stating the case for and against trading in human organs and legalising drugs.

But it is now launching a new two-week poster campaign scrutinising the London Olympics, under the headline “Hosting the Olympics is a waste of money”, appearing in London underground stations until the end of the month.

The weekly business and news magazine has timed the launch to coincide with the release of more than 6m tickets for sale online to the public from Tuesday, a moment that Olympics chief Lord Coe has highlighted as critical, the “point that it suddenly becomes very real”.

The ad highlights several negative points, including the £9bn that the Games will eventually cost – “twice what we were originally told and around £350 for every British household” – stating also that past hosts, including Montreal and Athens, have been “stuck with huge debts and white elephants”.

The campaign, which runs under the same theme, and strapline, as last year’s posters – “Where do you stand?” – aims to drum up debate and interest among people who do not normally read the Economist.

The Economist, which is 50% owned by Financial Times’s parent company, Pearson, is also running a pro-Olympics version of the poster. This version says that the Olympics will help the “poorest bit” of London and that such a big construction project has been a “boon to a stumbling economy”; adding, “Having a big party in London will cheer the place up. That’s worth a lot.”

A second theme in the campaign that it originally launched in 2010 looks at whether the baby boomer generation – people born between the end of the second world war and the mid-1960s – has left a “good” or “rotten” inheritance. Positive points include them inventing things such as the iPod and internet, which “young people love to play with”, while negatives include running up massive debts.

The campaign was created by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO. Media planning and buying was handled by PHD.

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Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.