Olympic sponsors have been feeling the heat about their failure to speak up about the anti-gay laws in Russia in the runup to Sochi. Nobody has felt the heat more than Coca-Cola, after their logos appeared on jackets of security personnel roughing up a young man with a Pride flag on the Olympic Flame route, and the hijacking of the McDonalds #CheersToSochi hashtag to include them on Twitter. They then blundered a digital promotion by blocking the word “gay” on an app designed to printed a custom digital Coke can for your friends.
It had been rumored they would drop big bucks on a “diversity ad” during the Super Bowl to try and counter the bad press, and just before halftime, they did just that. “It’s Beautiful” features a multi-cultural rendition of “America the Beautiful” over images of multiple nationalities, religions and scenery that makes up the great melting pot that is the United States. And in a bold move for the audience, at the :47 second mark we have a pair of gay dads with their daughter at the skating rink, and even features a family hug. Certainly groundbreaking for a Super Bowl ad, but does it really mean anything?
Coca-Cola had the opportunity as a worldwide sponsor to use their money and influence to speak directly to the Putin regime, but has continuously deflected, citing their GLBT record and corporate policies as enough for them to be considered gay friendly. Do we see dropping $8 million for a 60-second ad during the biggest television event of the year as enough? Or is it just empty words when what they should have done for months is take action?
To this writer, it feels like too little, too late.