Clooney Prods Swatch/Omega on China/Darfur

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 3/12/2008 12:45:00 PM
I have to run, but do note that celebrity activist George Clooney, an endorser of the upscale Omega brand of watches, has called on the firm's parent company Swatch to reconsider its Beijing Olympic advertising in light of the ongoing Sudan crisis. See if you buy Omega's replies to Clooney in this matter. From the Beeb:

Clooney - who is a critic of China's role in the Darfur crisis in Sudan - advertises Omega Watches, one of the worldwide partners for Beijing 2008.

"I have talked with Omega (about China) for over a year and will continue to talk to Omega," Clooney told BBC Sport.

"I have and will go to the places I and China do business and ask for help…"

In a statement issued to BBC Sport, Clooney added: "Last year I took Olympic athletes Joey Cheek and Tegla Loroupe to Beijing to meet with the heads of the Chinese Government.

"I have and will continue to ask China to use its considerable leverage with the Government of Sudan."

Omega Watches is one of 12 "worldwide Olympic partners" for Beijing and has been the official timekeeper for every Olympics since 1932.

The company lists Clooney - an award-winning actor, director, producer and screenwriter - as an "ambassador" for its brand on its official website.

Nick Hayek, the chief executive of the Swatch Group which owns Omega, told BBC Sport: "We have indeed discussed this issue with Mr Clooney.

"We have full respect for his strong engagement in the fight for the good cause and share his opinion, especially concerning Darfur, and we are proud to work with a person who has such high ethical views.

"It is our policy not to get involved in politics because it would not serve the cause of the sport which is one most noble human endeavours for creating understanding and peace all over the world.

"This was also the reason that we were present in Moscow during the 1980 Olympics despite the boycott by the western world, and we provided our services to the athletes during the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles when the Communist bloc boycotted the Games.

"Our role with our 300 on-site timekeepers was always clear of politics. We are partners of the athletes and the IOC, not of Governments."

When asked whether Omega would speak out on China's association with the Sudanese Government, Hayek said: "Of course, it is a continuous process but we do it the Swiss way of 'little strokes fell great oaks'.

"We make our point directly to our high-level contacts and not by jumping in at every headline."

Hayek also confirmed that Omega will continue to monitor the situation in Darfur and China's involvement.