Richard Socarides of The New Yorker writes best practices for Olympic sponsors' advertising

In a piece entitled, "Advertisers' Gay-Rights Choice," Richard Socarides applauded several corporations that have been willing to stand up for the worldwide LGBT community by condeming Russia's anti-gay "propaganda" law. Within the same article, The New Yorker also named companies that have remained silent and recommended ways in which they could speak out against discriminatory laws and the violence they inspire:

There’s a notable group of companies that hasn’t spoken out against the law: the international brands that are serving as top sponsors of the Olympics. They include Coca-Cola, Atos, Dow, General Electric, McDonald’s, Omega, Panasonic, Procter & Gamble, Samsung, and Visa. (Chris Geidner just posted a rundown on BuzzFeed of some of their plans for feel-good advertising.) Last Friday, forty human-rights organizations issued a joint statement calling on sponsors to “act now to urge Russia to halt the rising tide of discrimination, harassment and threats against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (L.G.B.T.) people.” On Tuesday, Human Rights Watch released a devastating four-minute video containing graphic scenes of harassment and violence in Russia. On Wednesday, the international gay-rights group All Out held demonstrations against the Olympic sponsors in nineteen cities to urge the sponsors to speak more forcefully against the law.

Recently, GLAAD was among the 40 major advocacy organizations that reached out to the Olympic sponsors, calling on them to react against Russia's anti-gay law and uphold Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter.

The article continues,

There are other ways that sponsors could hint at their displeasure with the law. When I interviewed the Russian activist and author Masha Gessen last October, she suggested that corporate sponsors use their marketing clout to demonstrate support for gay rights. “It will be a lot more effective to put a rainbow on every Olympic Coke can than for an American athlete to say something that won’t get broadcast or translated on Russian TV,” she told me. Hilary Rosen, a Washington-based media consultant who advises corporate clients in crisis (and who has long been active in the gay-rights movement), believes sponsors should have developed a plan supporting equal rights globally and used gay athletes and notable gay allies in advertising or social media.

"Advertisers' Gay-Rights Choice" also features a quote from GLAAD's Vice President of Communications, Rich Ferraro, who is working with GLAAD to push stories of LGBT Russians and their families into mainstream press.

Still, the selection of Sochi for the Games may prove indirectly helpful to the international gay-rights movement by allowing activists to bring global attention to the issue—and condemnation of the law from some companies, if not the most visible ones. Rich Ferraro, a spokesman for the gay-rights group GLAAD, told me that he “expects huge press coverage” of gay-rights issues during the Olympics.


You can read the fully story here. GLAAD has released a Sochi Playbook for media planning to cover the Olympics. To learn more about what's happening in Russia, visit glaad.org/russia.

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