THE REACH OF CORPORATE SPONSORSHIP

by Gunnar Eigener

The exploitation by corporate sponsorship of many different aspects of our lives is so deeply embedded that we barely express any outrage at the sheer audacity and hypocrisy of it all. Yet it is this sponsorship that attempts to deceive us into believing these companies should somehow be part of our lives, that we should embrace them. Integrity and morals are left outside the boardroom, deals are struck, and brands and corporate logos are pushed into our line of vision and within earshot at every opportunity. The sums are vast and are already eclipsing any sense of decency in pursuit of more money.

The problem that we are facing is that those in power adhere to the desires of the corporate sponsors. You just have to look at the TTIP and TISA deals to see how the rights of citizens and any concerns for their health and safety are overridden in favour of advancing corporate globalisation.

Donations are often made with the express intent of attempting to influence the party that will do the most for that company.

It has become a reality that many of the sports events and tournaments around the world would not be able to take place without sponsorship. Many companies step forward to pay vast sums of money to get their name out there. Consequently, we no longer bat an eyelid when we see the familiar logos of McDonald’s and Coca-Cola sponsoring the Olympic Games and FIFA World Cups. FIFA World Cup partners pay between $25-50 million a year in corporate sponsorship, the second-tier spend between $10-25 million. Racing car and bike drivers are clad in a plethora of company logos, to the point that it would seem odd without those very badges. A football shirt without a sponsor seems bare. NFL stars compete in colourfully sponsored and often company-named grounds like Gillette Stadium or Heinz Field.

In the US, AT&T have made contributions of over $2.5 million and spent over $7 million on lobbyists since 2012 while Comcast Corporation have contributed close to $3 million and spent $4.6 million on lobbyists. AT&T has a number of government contracts while Comcast reportedly employs family members of a number of officials. Las Vegas Sands Corp has donated $11,738,600 to the Republican Party since 2012, and in February of the same year Sheldon Adelson, its chairman and CEO, was quoted in Forbes as saying: “I am against very wealthy people attempting to or influencing elections. But as long as it’s doable I’m going to do it.”

( © Wikimedia )

( © Wikimedia )

Sponsorship in the political world is insidious. Donations are often made with the express intent of attempting to influence the party that will do the most for that company. While this may be considered good business practise, the companies themselves aren’t necessarily interested in what’s good for the people and therefore by default, neither are the politicians. J Michael Pearson, the CEO of Valeant Pharmaceuticals said, in light of the Turing Pharmaceuticals controversy: “If products are sort of mispriced and there’s an opportunity, we will act appropriately in terms of doing what I assume our shareholders would like us to do.” Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc is currently under investigation regarding its drug pricing and distribution  and patient finance assistance. Meanwhile, in the UK, Tory ministers blocked the Off-Patent Drugs Bill which would allow doctors to prescribe cheaper but still effective drugs.

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, gave a peerage to Dolar Popat, founder of TLC Group which owns care homes across the UK who had also donated £200,000 to the Conservative Party. Andrew Lansley, who advanced the privatisation of the NHS while Health Secretary received a donation from John Nash, the former chairman of Care UK for £21,000. He also became a Life Peer in October 2015. Access to senior government figures for money has always been a issue with scandals involving Tim Collins, Peter Cruddas, Stephen Byers and Geoff Hoon. The allegation of favouritism for Bernie Eccleston when F1 racing was exempt from the tobacco sponsorship ban. The CDU donation scandal in Germany brought down well known figures and allowed the emergence of Angela Merkel. The Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak is currently under investigation regarding an apparent donation of $675 million although that is likely to be embezzlement.

( © CorporateEurope.org )

( © CorporateEurope.org )

Political aspirations should not be dependent on getting the right companies on side, it should be about looking out for working people to make sure they get a fair deal, whether it’s in the work place or safely at home or what they consume. Politics is a service to the people, to represent them and to fight for them. All too often now it’s about money. Corporate sponsorship buys up political inspiration and circumvents the laws that are in place to protect citizens and replaces them with de-regulation and clauses that favour big business.

Corporate influence is extended through sponsorship, whether it be through major events or in the corridors of power through donations and lobbyists. The people’s rights are lost in the flow of money. So many decisions concerning the country, its resources, policies and money are tipped in favour of those corporations who contribute the most financially. Any attempts to overcome this are ignored and blocked. We are already considered assets or stock, not human beings. We are human cattle, fed an endless supply of products, goods and services, cast aside when we no longer fit a useful demographic.

Politics is a service to the people, to represent them and to fight for them. All too often now it’s about money

When deals like TTIP and TISA are pushed through, politics will simply become an extension of the corporate world, a buffer zone between us and them that dictates what we may or may not do with our money. If we’re not careful, soon everything will be part of the corporate world and everything, even the air that we breathe, will be for sale.

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