I suppose that when it comes to the behaviours they will and won’t tolerate in the Olympic Park, none of the main sponsors comes out with much credit. McDonald’s is unwilling to allow anyone to buy any similar fast food (although I think they will allow you to buy and eat chips elsewhere provided that you buy them with fish), and I doubt if we’ll see many Pepsi concessions alongside the Coke stands.
Even so, it seems that the intolerance and unhelpfulness of the one main financial sponsor, VISA, sets the benchmark. According to newspaper reports, VISA is insisting that 27 cash machines already located within Olympic facilities must be turned off, while at the same time installing eight of its own machines which will, of course, only take VISA cards.
It’s extremely – no, make that impossibly – difficult to understand what VISA hopes to get out of this mean-spirited decision. The negative media coverage of their decision must already far outweigh any PR benefit in games spectators finding the helpful VISA logo on all the Games’s ATMs. The fact that with only eight machines there are sure to be long queues and they’ll frequently run out of money can hardly be good for the brand. And surely the revenues from cash withdrawals over a couple of weeks at eight machines must be totally insignificant in the overall financial equation?
No, I can’t see even a glimmer of a case that it’s a good financial, business or public relations decision. Just another example of a financial institution faced with a choice between the right thing and the wrong thing, and defaulting instinctively and automatically to the latter.