I want to share with you a very strange experience. I applied for some free tickets for the Olympic Torch event in Cardiff about two months ago, on a impulse after seeing something online about it. I had to bid for the tickets with a click of a button and got some without thinking what I had signed up for. The event consisted of bands playing and the Olympic torch arriving at the event for its overnight stop in Cardiff.
I had difficulty giving the tickets away to friends or acquaintances, most were disheartened by the whole 2012 London Olympics. Some hated the mainstream kind of pop music or would prefer to see the torch pass in a more relaxing and free surroundings. Last minute a good friend and her boyfriend joined me, they had great enthusiasm for the event and a once in a life time attitude. It was great to see them, thanks to them, I had a nice evening. I took this photo of the event site map before going through security. Aghh the CocaCola in your face advertising commenced!
I gave my last ticket away to a man with a pushchair at the gate and then we proceeded to go through tickets checks and security. My friend had her union jack flags confiscated off her by security, something about the stick being dangerous. I got asked “does your camera have a detachable lens?” by the guy searching my bag. So in honesty “yes” I said, I was informed if I used my camera and any of the security team saw me it would be instant removal from the event site.
The above photo was I guess the reason I was harshly ordered to not use my camera. Just after security we were accosted by a guy with a vacant look in his eyes asking if we want a free photo. Here is the free CocaCola branded photo which I downloaded from a code off a CocaCola branded card they gave me. See the look of shock on my face (on the far left), I was in disbelief on how invaded and tortured I was being by treated by this whole fandango.
We tried to get closer to see Emeli Sandé on the stage. The amount of screens, one even in front of the stage if you were further back, it was a struggle to not stare at the massive TV’s instead of real people. TV’s make me angry!! As we walked through the crowd I could see Samsung union jack flag (agh that is why our non branded ones were confiscated), Lloyds TSB ribbons on poles and CocaCola drums. The CocaCola drums had multiple uses. Either frisbees which did not fly very well and if hitting anyone looked like they really hurt or punching targets that people hit until the drums skin split.
This guy I noticed in the crowd, displaying his trophies of two drums smashed to pieces and being worn. It was really dangerous with the drums flying all over the place and aggressive with people smashing up the drums. I am not sure who decided these were safe and effective promotional items, you got it seriously wrong this time.
Emeli Sandé is a powerful singer and has great stage presents, she tried to get a good atmosphere going without much success. Her last song and biggest hit Next To Me went down well and the crowd sang along to the easy to learn lyrics and feel good tune.
We got small plastic bottles of beer for £4, burgers for £6 and ice lollies for £2 each while “The Lloyds TSB” green people on stage attempted to entertain the crowd. The compares looked like someone had painted a fake smile on their faces, everything was so fake, plastic, cheap, disposable and naff.
The Olympic Torch arrived, carried by Melanie Stephenson (the only view of it on the big screens as you can see above) who had a nice story and gave me the only hint of what I felt the Olympics should be about for the whole event. They lit the cauldron on stage with the torch, a bit more disorganised, nervous chit chat from the compare, then the last band You Me At Six came on.
This photo with You Me At Six on stage shows clearly that the branding for CocaCola was so much more prominent than London 2012 Olympic branding. This event did nothing to raise the profile of the Olympics, instead damaging any positive hopes I had for the summer of sport. I am usually a keen and positive person, but this event has saddened me. I was (and still am in some ways) looking forward to the Olympics but I feel my freedom had been infringed and my mind attempted to be controlled. All I was left with was a bitter taste of consumerism, wastefulness, corporate greed and capitalism in my mouth. This should not be what the Olympics is about and is in many ways a direct opposite to the so-said Olympic spirit. The notion of fairness has burnt up in the flame.