‘Celebrate humanity’ or ‘consumers?’: a critical evaluation of a brand in motion

Joseph Maguire, Sarah Barnard, Katie Butler, Peter Golding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


The Olympics is a global event that acts as a carrier of cultural meanings and identities that are available to international audiences and markets. Our wider project examining the Athens Olympic Games seeks to investigate how such meanings are re-represented, distributed, and marketed by the media-sport complex. Here, we investigate how the initial formulation, development and use of the ‘Celebrate Humanity’ programme was framed by the IOC marketing department as a way both to deflect criticism of the IOC and as one means by which to provide ‘added-value’ to TOP sponsors. Attention is given to two main sources: IOC documents and interviews with personnel from TOP sponsors and representatives from their advertising agencies. Our conclusion is that this programme, and the wider Olympic movement, is characterized by a basic contradiction between the ideals of ‘Olympism’ and the realities of the modern Olympics in practice. The ‘message’ becomes embedded in a broader process of commerce whereby the media/marketing/advertising/corporate nexus is concerned less with the values underpinning Olympism per se and more with how such values can help build markets, construct and enhance brand awareness and create ‘glocal’ consumers/identities. ‘Celebrate Humanity’ is no exception.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-76
JournalSocial Identities
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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