Jim Armitage: Gold for UK plc, but no podium for sponsors

The Olympics proved Britain has the creative brains to take on the world, while Samsung wiped the floor with the Games' other global backers

Will it be Muse? George Michael? Adele and her bump? The cast list is a closely-guarded secret, but one thing's certain: there won't be a dry eye in our house at tonight's finale for the past fortnight's extraordinarily successful carnival of sport.

And whatever choreographer Kim Gavin has up his sleeve to complement Danny Boyle's opening ceremony, we Brits have come to learn that it'll probably be brilliant. Britain, the Olympics has taught us, can be, as they say, Great.

Of course, this new tide of optimism is mainly down to the feats of our athletes. But the events' staging has been almost as important – a testimony to our creative, engineering and architectural industries. What other country could have drawn on such a rich encyclopaedia of cool and appropriate music (James's "Sit Down" for sinbinned hockey players, Fatboy Slim's "Shaking that Ass" at the beach volleyball, David Bowie's "Heroes" whenever possible)?

Who else has our downright cheeky events organisation skills (those thrones for Wiggo and Co at Hampton Court, the Queen parachuting into the stadium with James Bond)? For patriotic reasons, I won't mention the awful, overpriced food and drink stands at the BT London Live venue in Hyde Park.

The promised boost to London trade in the short term may have proved elusive – that seemed unlikely from the outset. But the longer term impact for Britain when our chief exectuives pitch overseas should be huge. Not just for the hundreds whose engineering firms, IT consultancies and building contractors actually worked on the Games, but for all bosses assuring potential clients that our brains are among the world's best – a message that has perhaps got lost in the negative global publicity created by the City's wrongs.

But for the global firms who splashed out on sponsorship deals, the benefits are less clear. Some have obtained truly golden performances: Arcelor Mittal's billionaire founder Lakshmi Mittal paid a relatively lowly £23m to build Anish Kapoor's Orbit sculpture. It may look like a broken-down rollercoaster to my uneducated eye, but you can't deny millions more people have now heard of Mittal and his steel empire.

BMW scored highly with its fleet of liveried cars crowding London's streets and those little remote controlled mini Minis ferrying athletes' javelins around the stadium.

But how successful have the "top tier" sponsors been? These are the multinational giants who agree to spend many more tens of millions attaching their names to each of a number of Summer and Winter Olympics. Seems to me they've had a more mixed impact, but the gold medal has to go to Samsung.

The company was lucky the Games came as Apple was in between iPhone launches while Samsung had just released its big-screen Galaxy S-Three model. But the way it has used the Games to highlight the benefits of the new screen both for filming live events and replaying video footage has been canny.

McDonald's has not fared so well, mainly because, like Coca-Cola, it's trying to use a sporting event to plug an unhealthy product. But the fat merchants have fared very differently. Figures from marketing agency Precise show that in social network chatter, only a third of comments about Maccy D's and the Olympics were positive, compared with two-thirds of Coke's. The reason? Probably that Coke sponsored the Olympic torch relay and threw concerts along the route. This gave it big popularity away from London and the South-east. That's clever enough to earn Coke the silver medal in my book, but why didn't it plug more of its healthier stuff like Five Alive and Oasis?

Bronze is a tough call. I'm going to hand it to Omega for the fact that Jess Ennis snuck in a mention of hers on the Beeb the other night. And it manages the rare feat of getting its logos into the stadia.

Don't know about you, but the likes of Acer, Atos and Panasonic have made little impact on my consciousness, while Dow's presence only served to remind the public of the Bhopal disaster. But that's nothing compared with the travesty of Visa. Its insistence on exclusivity in the park and on the ticket website irritated the hell out of half the population – me included – who are with Mastercard. Since when has annoying your potential customers been good marketing? Wooden spoon time, chaps.

All in all, a wonderful Games for Team GB plc, but most of the global behemoths should sharpen up their acts for Rio in four years' time.

It's time to kick the thrill-seeking boxers out of our banks

New York trader Sean George was interviewed in a magazine last week with his face bleeding and swollen. He wasn't a victim of another Manhattan street robbery, but a Fight Club volunteer at an amateur kickboxing bout.

As he took another knee to the groin, his eye closing up from the punch he'd taken just before, he declared he'd not been so happy all year.

You see, for a former Deutsche Bank credit default swaps trader like him, there just isn't enough fun left in banking these days. "I enjoy taking risks," he explained.

Nowadays, he said, the big banks have moved to safer sports. Regulators are clamping down. The day job's becoming, frankly, a bit boring. That's why he now plies his trade at the racier, but smaller, Jeffries bank.

Well, I'm sorry Sean, but that's good for the rest of us, as we taxpayers needn't pay to mop up the blood when your gambles go awry.

There's a particular irony that he finds his Muay Thai fighting so exhilarating, because kickboxing happens like banking doesn't.

Take a risk in the ring that goes wrong and get your face broken: it hurts. In modern banking, if a trader makes a bum deal which loses millions of dollars, he pays no personal penalty. But if the gamble goes his way, he makes thousands of pounds. Dangerous betting is inherently encouraged.

We always thought Standard Chartered was the exception to the rule – boring but safe. But now we're not so sure. Even if chief executive Peter Sands is right, and his bank "only" committed $14m of dodgy transactions with Iran, that's still seriously illegal.

On Wednesday, he and his lieutenant, Richard Meddings (the potty-mouthed one, allegedly), face the watchdogs in New York to explain themselves. They should quell their bankers' instinct for fighting back. Instead, they must take the punches, agree a fine and humbly give back their bonuses.

Then, publicly, go about creating an obsessively clean culture at Standard Chartered, rooting out the gamblers, the pit-fighters, who seek to game the law.

Margareta Pagano is away

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Tax Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Tax Assistant is required to join a leading ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - OTE £25,000

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Developer - Watford - £45,000 - £47,000

£45000 - £47000 per annum + bonus + benefits: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / ...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Product Manager - (Financial Services) - SW London

£35000 - £38000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us