Olympic-Themed Fast Food and Soda Commercials

By , SparkPeople Blogger
There have been a lot of great commercials airing along with the 2008 Beijing Olympics…including a lot for fast food and soda.

By now you've probably all seen the Coca Cola commercial that has been airing regularly, as well as a few McDonald's commercials, featuring athletes holding and biting into their chicken sandwiches:

These major companies are big sponsors of the Olympics, and I'm sure they do a lot to help fund a lot of athletes, their families, and more. But what do you think about soft drink and fast food companies lining themselves up with the world's best athletes? Do you think it encourages people drink soda or eat fast food even more? When Coca Cola's ad states that by drinking Coke you've helped support an Olympic athlete, does that make you feel better about your beverage choice? Do you think the athletes pictured really rely on the foods they're advertising?

I have mixed feelings about these messages. I think that most people are keen enough to see through advertising like this. But I can't help but think that these companies are trying to make their products seem healthier than they are by showing them in relation to athletes, and some people (especially kids and teens) might not be as aware of the marketing that's going on. I am big fan of this Nike one, which features a motivational song by The Killers:

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Eat like an Olympic athlete--eat at McDonald's! Right! Report
I watched most of the broadcasts and I was appauled at the sponsorship of McDonalds!!! It bothered me everytime one came on. What a bunch of crap for the youth of today!! How can we as a society promote our best and finest athelets AND the junkiest stuff to eat along with it. And Soda jumped on the bandwagon too?? The cal. the fat the salt, the sugar the white carbs. All that grease. Unbelievable!!! Report
yeah, I'm going to have to agree with some others on here. There's no need to condemn fast food companies for taking advantage of huge marketing opportunities, nor the athletes for accepting sponsorhips, that's how they make their living. and yes, swimmers, runners, athletes do eat Mcdonalds, they do drink soda, they do eat pounds of pasta at a time and way more meat than the average person could in one sitting. And they are able to do that because they train all day. I work out 30-45 minutes a day and im exhausted, that's why I have to watch what I eat. If you can train day in and day out like they do, the occasional, or even frequent, cheeseburger is not going to be that bad for you. Report
Shame on the Olympic Committee and the Olympic athletes for promoting that junk! That's not what gave them those strong, trim bodies! Report
I LOVE that Killers song. :) Thanks for sharing that commercial!!!

As for the rest of it, what a load of garbage. :P But what can you do? Teach and educate your children through your words and example. Less TV and commercials anyway, right? :D hahaha Report
I find it very interesting that the writer seems to think it wrong for a fast food company to use athletes to sell their food and yet there are ads for White Castle on sparkpeoples website. Bottom line, its just an ad. Report
Its a free country with free speech. If they have paid for the commercial spot they can say what they want. You as a parent should teach your children the motto "let the buyer beware". Encourage healthy skepticism. It will help them when viewing a commercial. It will help them when listening to news "spin". It will help them when assessing political candidates. Fact checking is always a good habit to get into. Report
The Olympics is a terribly expensive event . . . being from Salt Lake City I know first hand that the sponsors make it possible to pay for these extravagant athletic events. So yes, the commercials are a major reason the event is broadcast free. If you were buying an admission ticket to an event, such as the opening ceremonies then you would pay $1,000 to $2,500 for a seat. It is a small price to pay for the opportunity to watch the events from the comfort of my home.

By the way, cable tv and a DVR allows one to record an event and then watch it sans commercials! Yahoo! I don't have to watch the commercials and save time too! It works with almost any program. Report
These commercials would not have nearly as much negative effect on buying habits if people did not watch them over and over. I LOVE the Budweiser Clydsdale ads - and always look forward to the new ones. I never drink beer :) The McDonald's commerical was just a turnoff. Nasty unsportsmanlike behavior by one set of kids, greedy behavior by another set. Why on earth would that make me want a hamburger? Personally I thought that the unsportsmanlike behavior was worse for kids to see (especially during the Olympics) than the overeating ... The barrage of commercials clearly influences behavior or companies would not spend so much money on them, but we can and should limit our exposure to this kind of thing. It isn't good for us! Report
The mistake a lot of people make in watching and discussing these commercials is to just dismiss them and say serious athletes would never eat something with that many calories. In reality, serious athletes have a training regimen that would make the rest of us cry to attempt. Because of all this training they also need a lot more calories on a daily basis. Someone else already posted about Michael Phelps' 12,000 calorie diet as a very good example of this. Another interesting fact is that during races pro cyclists actually drink coke as well as their water or energy drink because the sugar provides that instant kick while the energy drink takes a while to get through their system. Granted they aren't downing it by the gallon, but they are drinking it while competing.

Moral of the story, don't judge a book by its cover, many pro athletes will eat/drink the stuff. Also, don't try to pretend you would turn down $250k in sponsorship or whatever the going rates are, just because its coming from coke or mcdonalds. Many of these athletes have worked towards their olympic dreams their entire lives, and when they finally make it to the big stage, i'm sure they're more than willing to bite a burger in front of a camera so that their families can be there with them, whether they normally eat it or not. Report
Spamswife said "They are probably not even really eating it. Take a bite and spit. Same with the coke. Its probably not even real coke. Coloured water. The things on TV are not real very often. Especailly in comercials."

So true. When you look at cereal boxes with the "milk" being poured down, they acutally use GLUE for the photo shoot.

As for Michael Phelps- He was at the same college I was-University of MIchigan (not sure if he's graduated now or not bc I can't remember which of my years overlapped w his.) But there is really no access to a McDonalds near campus unless you drive like 10-15 min & there's alot of better food on campus. Most of the UMichigan athletes(other than football) I knew was VERY strict about their diet. I would think especially for a sport like swimming where they practice in drag suits and not shave until the final competitions, they would be especially cautious not to put any extra fats into their diet. Especially not food like McDonalds which is FULL of TRANS FATS!!! Report
I've learned that we are all Human & that 'portion control' in all things are the key! Report
My son who is 14 laughed at the commercials and said, "I'm sure none of those athletes ever step foot in a McDonalds while training." So some kids are a lot more saavy then a person might think - or maybe the discussions we have about healthy eating are sinking in... :-) Report
Hahaha, my hubby and I make fun of these commercials all the time. We were actually laughing about it with the cashier the last time we were in McDonalds (I ordered a grilled chicken sandwich and scraped off half the mayo). You'll notice that the only one who actually bites the sandwich is the weightlifter. The gymnast is holding it as far away from her as she can. In fact, they're all holding it as if they're not sure what do to with it. And I'm not very convinced by the "perfectly seasoned" "juicy" and "just the way I like it" comments.

I think if I were an athlete, I would refuse to do an ad for fried chicken sandwiches or any other kind of artery clogging fast food. Report
To anyone who knows better, those food commercials are super fake; we know that athletes and SmartSparkers too make food choices based on nutrition and a buttery-tasting, fried chicken (??) sandwich is not "gold". A Coke, well, maybe sometimes, but I'm quite sure the chosen drink is smarter calorically.
I take offense to these commercials on behalf of the obese children who think what they are consuming is okay since the athletes do it (that's what children will believe).
That is the worst part.
These commercials annoy me for exactly the reasons mentioned in the blog post: they make it seem like you can consume junk like that all the time and be uber-fit like Olympic athletes. The first time I saw one of the McDonald's commercials, I also thought "as if those athletes would touch that greasy food with a 10-foot pole." But I've also read that Michael Phelps consumes 12,000 calories per day, and I've seen pictures of him - outside of those ads - holding McD's items. So it does make me wonder. But still, the commercials don't provide that perspective - that his nutritional needs are vastly different from the average person's, so maybe he can eat that stuff to some extent, but regular folks can't. Drives me crazy. Report
It is possible for occasional, moderate consumption of fast food to fit into a healthy diet. Obviously it's not healthy to eat in mass quantities all of the time, but I don't think that the other extreme is healthy either.

I don't for a second believe that McDonalds food is part of the regular diet of most athletes, but some of them possibly indulge in it on occasion. They were in the commercials due to money; sponsorships are necessary for athletes. Regardless, one should not base their food choices off commercials, which by their very nature are designed to sell you a product. We should make intelligent choices and take personal responsibility for what we eat. The information is there, it's all about what you do with it. Report
My sister and I laughed at these ads, saying you know those athletes never touch the stuff, at least not while they're training. It's not just the calories, it's the JUNK! I was a little surprised that they would agree to do ads, but many of them are young and need the money. Or they have good memories of the products, or just want to be on TV. Doesn't matter much. It does, however, make me very glad to not have kids! one more thing I don't have to worry about. :) Some of those ads are pretty manipulative! Report
I think it comes down to the individual pausing to really think about what they just saw. Yah the athelete may eat a McD's sandwich but they are getting paid to eat it with that much gusto. They are probably not even really eating it. Take a bite and spit. Same with the coke. Its probably not even real coke. Coloured water. The things on TV are not real very often. Especailly in comercials.
I would think that most of the population would know that you cant look like an olympic athelete by eating McD's. I might be wrong though. Report
I wonder if any athletes said no to being in the fast food commercials? Report
I don't really think athelets drink coke or any carbonated drinks. That is not going to happen. As for Mcdonals I always pack a brown bag when my grandkids want to eat there. Healthy and Mcdonalds are not on the same page. Report
I have encouraged my 7 year old to watch the Olympics with me. We rarely watch TV in our house, but these games can teach so much, including things about another country and the payoff of perseverance, good sportsmanship, etc. I was disgusted by the McDonald's commercials...but my daughter piped in with, "Ewwww....why are they eating that nasty stuff?" (I have allowed her McDonald's a couple times a year, and we note the following bellyache she has EVERY time, and the bad poop that comes after, so she knows what this kind of "food" does to her body.) But still, here I am telling her how great these athletes are, and there they are, recommending McDonald's. It's frustrating! Report
"Do you think it encourages people drink soda or eat fast food even more?"

Ummm... you guys realize that's the point of advertising, right?

Although really, if Phelps eats 10,000 calories a day while training he probably does eat McDonald's. I'm not sure how else you could get that many calories in a day! Report
I've always been my "own person" and never cared about commercials. Report
I think it's revolting that products with about 2 million calories and nothing but processed everything in them are being associated in the open American minds, that watch hours upon hours of television at a stretch, with the top atheletes of the world! I'm not saying that EVERYONE falls for it, but obviously SOMEBODY does, or they wouldn't spend the millions to place the 30 second advertisements! Report
I am torn...I know that you can have Coke and McDonalds in moderation and still be healthy...people here at SP know that...others (adults and kids) may not have that philosophy and may potentially consume more soda and fast food because of the advertising...but it comes down to personal responsibility, too. At this point, the majority of people know that those foods are not healthy and contribute to weight gain. Food companies cannot and should not be responsible for the health of everyone. Should healthy options be available? Definitely! But those companies shouldn't be required to only advertise their healthy options. The companies are in place to make money NOT to be responsible for the health of their customers. Smart companies realize that people are starting to pay attention and demand healthy options so they are catering to that customer base, in order to make a profit. That's what the advertising is about - profit. If an Olympic champion encourages others to consume that product, the ad company has done their job. It's up to the parents, and adults in general, to make the right choice, not the fast food company. Report
I would drink anything that Michael Phelps endorsed right now, and I'm a CANADIAN. But it's the athletes that are the most at risk image-wise, I think. If I saw Michael Phelps doing an ad for coke, for instance, I'd question his integrity. Report
When watching or reading any advertisement, people just have to remember one thing... the person promoting the product is PAID to do so. Doesn't mean they like it, eat it, drink it or have even ever heard of it before, but they get big bucks to smile and say its good. Fortunatly, I have a mind of my own and don't worry about what phelps drinks or eats or wears. If we as a society wasn't so fascinated with every aspect of so called celebrities lives then these types of advertisements would be ineffective. Report
I think it a bad idea that they show these athletes eating this stuff cause in reality most athletes dont eat this stuff. Beside maybe Micheal Phelps cause he has to eat a large amount of calories a day and he burns them off so quickly when he swims. But I dont believe other athlete actually eat this and it sending the wrong message to young kids. I think if coke was showing maybe a Diet Coke ad well during the Olympics there be no issue but there showing ther regular Coke Cola which is worse for you. An McDonald's in it self is just bad not matter if you think you are eating healthly there you know that most of those quote heath food that they carry have more fat and calories add to them then something you make yourself. Report
I laugh when I see these athletes doing a coke or McDonald's commerical. You know there's no way these top physical specimens are eating this junk!! Report
As the parent we need to stay focused on remembering that we need to stay focused on what our goals are. we need to help our children to be healthy. the way that one can do this is by setting the example and letting the children see our example not do what I say and don't do what I do. or something like that.

Yes, they have every right to advertise. But we have reached a place where children my kids age are likely to have a shorter life expectancy than we do - a first in history. Our attitude that companies should be allowed to put out whatever messages they please is quite frankly killing us. We are responsible for our actions but the messages around us have an incredible impact on how we shape our decision making. Sadly there are kids out there that will see that McD's ad and believe that Olympic althletes eat fried chicken sandwhiches regularly - and will want to emulate them. And don't give me the parent control crap - I work really hard to teach my kids healthy eating habits but one ad like that can stick with a kid and fights with all of my messages. It frames the debate. The ad with the soccer team - pairing happiness with fast food - is worse. As a parent you can't undo a message like that in the 30 seconds it took the advertise to put that idea in their head. Report
Get a clue people! These are athletes who can eat & drink whatever they please because they are going to burn it off. The marketing is more than that - these companies pump MILLIONS into programs like the olympics so when it comes time to market their products, it's a little bit of, "I scratched your back. Now you scratch mine."

McDonalds and the Coca-Cola company, as well as other sponsers, can only come into your home if you let them. Use the mute button on your remote. Change the channel for 2 minutes. Or 4 minutes. Whatever. Sponsers and advertisers aren't breaking into your homes to force greasy bigs macs and regular cokes down the gullets of you and your children.

There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with advertising and you are exhibiting hypocritical behavior in picking and choosing what marketing you like and what marketing you claim is detrimental to children and other viewers of the olympics.

If you don't like it, TURN IT OFF! But don't appoint yourself to be censors for everybody else based on your opinions and experiences!!! Report
Oh please! I hate it when I see something like that on TV. In Canada, there's a McDonalds commercials where kids sitting around the table cheering for the Canadian teams, eating cheese burgers and milkshakes. Our kids don't need any more encouragement to eat junk food. Report
Not going to be a popular comment: The McD commercial is one I remember. Their advertising team did what they were paid to do - get noticed. Just imagine how much time we've all spent on this thread.

I can't say I remember any other commercials except the one of the girls on the trains eating Oreos.

Finally, I agree with Gaastra, TracyFAdams, and TaraE66. Kids need to play more than they watch TV. Burn more calories than they eat - wow, what a concept for life. Even growing up when there were 3 channels to watch (that you had to get up to change), I still personally struggle to expend more than I consume! (Thus the reason I joined Spark!)

Playing not only keeps children active physically, it helps engage the creative and analytical sides of their brains. Report
I too like the Nike commercial.
I think the Coke commercial was a pretty good. I really don't see anything wrong with it. I think they have a right to advertise if they sponsor the event. I don't eat at junk food places like McDonalds, so really didn't pay much attention to it. I think most people are mature enough to know what is healthy and what is not. As for the kids, if their parents allow them to eat unhealthy junk food then shame on them. When kids get older if they are taught, these commercials will not effect how they eat. That's just my feelings. Report
I totally agree. I would rather see positive healthy commercials during sporthing events like the Olympics Report
Thank you SlickMickey and everyone else who realizes that it's NOT the commercial/business putting the food in your or your child's hands/mouth.....the decision is made by the individual or in the case of the child, the parent.....take responsibility for your own actions and food choices for crying out loud.....Ronald McDonald certainly never dragged me into one of the fast food joints and shoved a Big Mac or other food item down my throat, I made that choice myself.

They are commercials that enable those of us who can't be present at the Olympics to watch what is going on....end of story......criminy Report
A couple of comments.

How do they have the finances to support these huge TV events?
Because we have already been there to eat and support these products.

Does it make us want to partake of these products more?
I don't think so. We do this because we either like the product or it is readily available at the time and place we are.

We can't blame the tv because if we were all going to weight watchers and gold's gym they would be the sponsors. Report
I don't pay much attention to the commercials when I do watch TV which isn't often. .....but when I do I use the commercials to do something else.... Report
I think it is a disgrace. I understand that they need to have commercials since they are a sponser, but we should be encouraging healthy options at McDonald's. I also have this same problem with Oprah and Dr. Phil. They have these shows that display all of these people going through life changes and becoming healthy - even OPRAH herself - only to go to a commercial for Pizza Hut. As if Oprah doesn't have enough money to help sensor those commercials. She knows the audience and should know better. Commercials really bother me in general. I am going to rant for a bit.

Why is it that radio is free - commercial sponsors pay for it. I get it. If you want no commercials, you buy satellite. TV is a total monopoly. There is no free TV with commercials and purchased TV with no commercials. No matter what, you get commercials. Why do we have to PAY for cable yet let the sponsors take up to 1/3 of our programming time? I have a deep despise for TV ads. If they want advertisements on TV, they should have FREE cable and offer a commercial free option.

Ok, I am done. :) Report
I guess I have to watch more TV (HaHa). I haven't seen any of these commercials. But when I do happen to see commercials I am like most people and realize this is a marketing tool. Report
I bet that if you took a poll of olympic athletes, not one would admit to having, or even wanting, a Mickey-Dee fried chicken sandwich... the actors don't even look like real athletes Report
I agree we all need to take our own responsibility when it comes to what we eat. However, I rolled my eyes when I saw the McDonald's Go for The Gold with their Deep Fried Chicken Sandwich. You see the images of these great athletes, and then they are all holding a Chicken Sandwich. You are what you eat!

I changed my eating habits by cutting out HFCS items and making other healthy choices and while I don't have an Olympic body yet, I feel so much better. I know after eating a Chicken Sandwich from McDs I wouldn't have a smile on my face.

In regards to Michael Phelps, yes he takes in an insane amount of calories, but he is also burning an equally insane amount of calories everyday! 7 days a week. I don't feel that people were misled about why he eats so much.

Bodies need fuel when they are performing at a higher than normal level. That is true of triathletes as well.

McDonald's well that is I guess their right to advertise. However, most people should know that a diet of McDonald's isnt' going to give you an Olympic body.

You may think that most people are smart enough to see through it, but it digs at you subliminally. While watching the olympics one afternoon, my friend P got up and went to McDonalds, citing the stupid commercials as making him hungry. My fiance, who eats fast food rarely if at all (I've totally given it up, he's mostly given it up) even got a hamburger. So they do their job sometimes without "fooling" people - just the constant reminder of food is all it takes.

And sure, back in my athletic kid/teenage years I certainly had my share of junk food, it's not beyond reason that an athlete would splurge on some unhealthy food, it's more reasonable than those supermodels eating fast food. But nowadays, I would much rather have a better quality burger and fries when I decide to eat that, not "lips and ears" which my dad used to tell me was in McDonalds. :) Report
I really like the Nike commercial with the song by The Killers. However, the commercial that is really bothering me right now that I have seen multiple times this week during the olympics is the one with 2 kids soccer teams and the winning team is cheering and happy and holding the trophy and they cut back to the losing team looking sad and angry. And then, one of the losing teams parents come rolling up with Happy Meals for all of the kids and now the winning team is jealous of the losing team because they all get Happy Meals.
That one really bothers me. Why in the world would you feed your children fast food right after exercising? Report
this is very interesting Report
I don't eat something just because someone else does, Olympian, rock-star, or whatever. And the deal where McD's did the commercial where the "good mommies" took their dress-up daughters to have a healthy lunch? Puh-leeze! Who is this impressionable? I have grand-daughters who see through these motives!

I say, if you have fast-food, enjoy it. It's a free world. But let's not dress it up as something it's not. Report
I also like the Nike ad. As far as the commercials go, I really don't pay much attention to them. But, they do have an influence on children. Luckily, I have control over what our kids eat when they are home and it's not fast food. Report
On balance I do not think the coke and McD's ads are what I want to see. The gold they want has nothing to do with stronger and fitter minds and bodies.

The idea that only fools would fall for these ads is just not true. All of us fools are influenced by these ads.

The worst ad that has not even been mentioned is the Bud ad. This gold drug adds cals, and at times keeps you from walking let alone running. Drink your milk. Report