idea blog

Marketing commentary for better. Or worse.

The Olympics: a time of superhuman athletic prowess, inspiring global unity, and epic marketing wins – and fails.

And during a particularly controversial Olympics, tread lightly, o corporate giants – lest you incur the wrath of LGBT people (& allies) everywhere.

Or, in this case, don’t just tread lightly – take a freaking stand.


Here are a couple examples of marketing teams who got it right – and the ones who didn’t.

What We Like: Be bold. Take a stand.

There a couple routes you can go here. One is serious and sobering – to leverage the power of your brand against oppression and toward greater inclusivity. We saw this working beautifully in two Chevrolet spots, both featuring gay couples, that debuted during the Olympics.

The other route is to appeal to people’s sense of humor. This one, from the Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion, has some fun with the issue.

And, finally, there’s nothing like a good strong image.


What We Don’t Like: Stay “Neutral” and Hope Everyone Ignores The Issue

It’s been well documented that the official corporate sponsors at Sochi were warned about the potential PR backlash, had many opportunities to intervene and use their position for good, and instead did nothing. Most of these sponsors – and their marketing teams – are guilty of this approach, including Coca-Cola, Visa, Proctor & Gamble, and McDonald’s. Their cheerful, value-neutral campaigns ignore the elephant in the room – which turned the focus of their campaigns, unwittingly, back onto the elephant.

So that McDonalds’ #CheersToSochi turned from this …


… into this.


CheerstoSochi2 CheerstoSochi1 CheerstoSochi3


We at LogicTrail applaud the companies and marketers who have used the Olympic platform to be bold, have heart, and speak out against injustice. In this case, we believe that means actively responding to customer and citizen pressure and using your influence to publicly oppose and help block, where possible, Russia’s anti-LGBT laws.

In the end, it’s a good marketing lesson, too: don’t try to reap the benefits of sponsorship without also answering to the responsibilities that come with it. Otherwise, well – expect your marketing campaign to get hijacked by someone who will put it to those purposes.

Cheers to bolder marketing, with heart.