Drawing on work located within critical political economy and process sociology, this article uses content analysis to examine the types, frequency, and content of Olympic related advertising in the British press and television during the 2004 Athens Olympics. We assessed the degree to which The Olympic Partner (TOP) sponsors incorporated themes derived from Olympism and the Celebrate Humanity program, as well as from consumer culture more broadly. Our findings suggest that relatively few advertisers incorporated themes relating to Olympism, and that those that did focused on “excellence,” which is arguably more indicative of the achievement sports ethic and consumerism than of Olympic ideals.
Joseph Maguire and Katie Butler are with the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, Loughborough University. Susan Barnard and Peter Golding are with the Department of Sport Sciences Loughborough University, Loughborough LE11 3TU, UK.