The Dark Side of the Olympics (part 2) – Exclusive! Corporate Hospitality goes for Gold

It’s started. The corporate hospitality invitations to people in positions of serious influence and power – and to the odd procurement director as well when that doesn’t work! (Only joking...)

The Golden Ticket

I saw the first example last week of the sort of temptation to which some of our readers will be subjected over the next few weeks.  A CPO friend of mine was offered Olympics hospitality by a supplier, one of the official sponsors of the Olympics. I won’t mention the firm or sector for obvious reasons.

And the nature of the offer left that CPO – and me – somewhat stunned. How about a four-day, access all areas, VIP pass to any Olympic event you fancy attending – including the final of the 100 metres? Gymnastics finals? Equestrian events? That’s right, anything. Four days.


Give my friend credit – “it was just too much”, was the comment, and the offer was politely declined. But it obviously raises some interesting issues.

1. How many of these Willy Wonka style Golden Tickets are around?

2. Does this mean that there will be empty seats at some events, because the organisers have to make sure there is enough space available if all the holders of the “golden tickets” turn up at once?

3. Where does this sit in terms of the Bribery Act? If someone is offering me something that is either totally unavailable on the market, or has a value of many thousands of pounds*, can I accept it?

I’m pretty much a capitalist at heart but sometimes, I must admit, the inner egalitarian communitarian does get rather exercised when it sees things like this.  But no doubt the sponsors pay loads of money to help make it all happen, so I guess we should be grown up about it.

Seriously though, we’d suggest any procurement – or business person generally – needs to think very carefully before accepting quite such a valuable gift from any current or potential supplier. Consider the ethics and how it would look if Private Eye featured it - that's always a good test to apply!

* I don’t know how you put a market value on this as there is no official re-sale market for tickets - £10K? £20K? More?


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Voices (4)

  1. Watcher of the Skies:

    I now want to see David Noble citing this (type of) case in a public statement to the press, saying that it is illegal under the Bribery Act and that CIPS formally rejects it and will expel any CIPS member known to have accepted such as bribe.

    That, or cups of coffeee laced with laxative for the filth-trading company that is making such offers.

  2. RJ:

    If it doesn’t fall underthe Bribery Act, it definitely should!

    Marketing budgets are sanctioned on the basis that they will generate incremental sales revenue. Ergo, the person making this offer clearly believes it will generate sales. It’s not directly related to the service and is a personal benefit to the individual. It looks like a bribe, walks like a bribe, it is a bribe (as indeed is almost any corporate hospitality over a nominal amount). Can someone please explain to me why execs need to meet at racecourses, cup finals or glamorous restaurants when most of us make do with meeting rooms or coffee shops?

  3. bitter and twisted:

    Whats really worrying is, if this company can waive a bribe this big around quite casually, imagine what their proper targetted offers are like !

  4. Final Furlong:

    It falls into the Bribery Act – it must be worth about £50,000+ (at least). A corporate ticket for one day can be £20,000 without any guarantees for the 100m. I recall a one-day package (in the press) stating ‘£240,000 for a minimum table of 10’.

    “It was just too much” was an understatement. It’s outrageous.

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