Olympics: The Olympian Games That Companies Play

Why you can park nearer in a GM car, charge last-minute tickets only on your Visa card and develop those snapshots just with Kodak

Back in 1928, Coca-Cola sent off 1,000 cases of its "official soft drink" on the ship taking the American team to the Amsterdam Games. Probably seemed like a grand gesture at the time. This year, just for the privilege of calling itself the official soft drink, Coke paid a cool $3 million. The Olympics went to Los Angeles in 1984, learned all about how to cut deals and sell fantasy, and made a $215 million profit. The organizers of the Calgary Games have merely taken a leaf (a maple leaf, of course) from the Los Angeles book.

That is why some...

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