Brands With A Stance: Olympic Edition

The Olympics are historically one of the biggest opportunities for global advertising. Companies, for a certain amount of money, can pay to have their names shown during the Olympics and the ability to use the iconic rings. However, this year, the Olympics are being held in Russia, one of the most homophobic countries in the world. While many brands are still advertising and sponsoring the Olympics, some are using their advertising to fight back against the country’s anti-gay laws. Google is one example. While they did not use advertising, the day of the opening ceremony, they changed their homepage to using the pride colors and featured a quote about equality for all.

Canada is one example who has been using advertising to fight back against the laws. In one ad, they show two athletes practicing Luge with the tagline “The winter Olympics have always been a little gay.” This is an example of a brand, in this case the country of Canada, using their advertising to fight against an injustice. Many companies these days are using their advertising power to take a stance on an issue they believe in. Nowadays, many companies have to express their beliefs on social issues so consumers can align themselves with companies they believe in. However, not all companies are making a stance which is forcing consumers to lash out.


McDonalds, one of the sponsors of the Olympics, was originally using #CheersToSochi to get fans to tweet their support to athletes in Sochi. However, soon after it began, activists hijacked the hashtag and were using it to ask McDonalds why they were sponsoring the games with the injustice happening in Russia. McDonalds was eventually forced to take the hashtag down. Additionally, Coca-Cola had cans where fans could personalize them with messages for the athletes. However, after activists took over the messages as well, they were forced to take back the cans.


Overall, the Olympics, while being one of the best ways to be seen as a global brand, is turning into much more this year. Companies are using their advertising to make their stance on Russia’s laws known while some are ignoring them all together. This is one of the best examples of companies and brands using their advertising to show their stance. Whether this will win favor with consumers or not remains to be seen, but I think this is a sing of what is to come. Companies will continue to use their advertising and social media efforts to continue to show their stance.



CIDI ICDI. (2014 February 4). Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion | Luge. Retrieved from:

Dan, Avi. (2014 February 5). For Coke And McDonald’s, Ignoring The Power Of Social Media To Disrupt Means No Medals In Sochi. Retrieved from:

Stanley, T.L. (2014 February 10). Brands Will Need Those War Rooms They Set Up in Sochi. Mashable. Retrieved from:

Wasserman, Todd. (2014 February 4). Advocacy Ad: The Winter Olympics Have ‘Always Been a Little Gay’. Mashable. Retrieved from:

3 thoughts on “Brands With A Stance: Olympic Edition

  1. Although a lot of companies are opposing Russia’s anti-LGBT laws, many aren’t. Most of these groups/companies are sponsors of the International Olympics Committee, potentially the most important groups. I think groups and companies taking moral stances is a fairly new concept and we can only hope that companies are more willing to jump on board and stand up for what is right in the future.


  2. It is an interesting phenomenon that is happening, but I agree with corporations standing up for their values. Obviously, it is important to check their congruence in all areas of the company if they claim to support something in an ad and then contradict themselves elsewhere. Overall though, it could lead to stronger brand support and ethical business practices.


  3. For the companies that are sponsors of the Olympics, this is a great way for them to stand up for what they believe in and show the world that they will fight for what’s right! Some companies aren’t able to show their support for their values and what better way to show their dedication than through a global, highly seen event!


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