The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games are approaching faster than a Russian cold snap. But whilst event organisers make the finishing touches to the 15-day event, the deals to guarantee willing brand partners global exposure have been agreed upon and filed under D for Done (or maybe under C for сделанный). Multi-billion Ruble contracts have […]
The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games are approaching faster than a Russian cold snap. But whilst event organisers make the finishing touches to the 15-day event, the deals to guarantee willing brand partners global exposure have been agreed upon and filed under D for Done (or maybe under C for сделанный).
Multi-billion Ruble contracts have been signed with all the usual suspects; McDonalds, Coca-Cola, P&G and Samsung, to name but a few, who all hope to take advantage of the colossal audience the Winter Games will no doubt attract.
However, this year’s edition of the Olympic Games has attracted almost exclusively negative publicity: tales of high-level political corruption all the way down to the killing of stray dogs on the streets of Sochi which has led to almost no one discussing the supreme talents that will be on display during the games.
What started as a Brand Marketer’s dream, has quickly turned into a public relations nightmare: Olympic partners have faced threats of boycotts unless they publicly address the controversy surrounding the Sochi Games. Yesterday marked the start of worldwide protests condemning Russia’s controversial ‘anti-gay’ laws which were signed last year by President Vladimir Putin. Gay rights protesters descended on 19 cities worldwide, including London, Paris, New York and St. Petersburg, in the hope of encouraging major Olympic Sponsors, such as McDonalds and Coca-Cola, to speak out against Russia’s draconian stance on homosexuality.
Russian President, Vladimir Putin, has reassured the world that homosexuals are welcome in Sochi for the Olympics, but asked that they “Just leave the children in peace.”. His statement obviously did very little to appease gay rights campaigners, who have now mounted so much pressure, that a household name in AT&T has unequivocally voiced their support for the LGBT community in the matter. Whilst not an official Sochi 2014 partner, the telecoms giant has sponsored the US Olympic Committee since the Los Angeles 1984 Summer Games.
During last week’s Super Bowl, Coca-Cola aired an ad which angered one set of Americans, but garnered praise from another set, namely those who support gay rights. The $8m, 60-second spot featured a pair of gay fathers with their child for all of 5 seconds. So while it seems that Coca-Cola is a supporter of gay rights in the USA, it’s unclear whether that sentiment extends to Russia and their Olympic partner commitments.
It remains to be seen if any of Sochi’s Olympic partners follow the example set by AT&T. What isn’t in doubt however is the fact that Russia’s stance on homosexuality and the Olympic sponsors’ handling of the issue will be discussed long after the final medals are handed out and the Olympic flame is extinguished.