As Adweek points out, the ad is simple and understated, a stack of six pair of underwear, each one color of the rainbow flag. The company's tag line, "Björn Borg says da!" ("Björn Borg says yes!"), prominently sits along the top.
It's not a hyper-pro LGBT message, more subtle and coded. Marketing director Lina Söderqvist says "the advert is a way for us to reach Russian influencers. Björn Borg as a brand has always advocated equality on all levels." However, in order to break through the anti-LGBT state media in Russia, one must be coded. This ad reaches Russians in a way few other messages have.
There has been much discussion about displaying rainbow items, especially during the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Openly gay speed skater Blake Skjellerup has pledged to wear a specially designed rainbow pin to the Olympics to show support and solidarity. Others have discussed rainbow articles of clothing as a subtle message. Some even speculated if the colorful German Olympic uniforms were a pro-LGBT message, which Germany has denied. This ad is yet another way to reach a Russian audience, both LGBT and straight, with a pro-LGBT message.
"Thank you, Björn! Pro-LGBT actions and statements inside Russia are key in reaching Russian influencers with pro-LGBT messages and supporting the LGBT community of Russia," said Yelena Goltsman, founder and co-president of the Russian-speaking LGBT association RUSA LGBT. "Björn Borg has found a clever way to do that through marketing. German Olympic team is sporting rainbow-themed Olympic uniforms. We welcome multiple methods of support and we invite all LGBT advocates to find ways, both inside and outside the country to stand in solidarity with LGBT Russians."
At a time when the Barilla Pasta CEO is learning that homophobia is bad for business, it's refreshing to see Björn Borg use its marketing power to send a pro-LGBT message in Russia.