Open Happiness… Coca Cola
While google is not an Olympic sponsor, it seems to be one of the first and only major companies to take a stance against the controversial anti-gay Russian law. Coca-Cola, an Olympic presenting sponsor, seems to be failing miserably. Recently an Olympic bystander (Article: Coke defends arrest of gay Russian human rights advocate ) that waived a rainbow flag was arrested. In the video of the situation, you will also see an IOC member in the video.
What was Coke’s response?
That sounds great… what about the arrest?
What left me bewildered was that the arrest was for crossing a security perimeter yet the officer holds on so tightly to the flag never once letting go of it. Russia does not condone intolerance or discrimination of any kind, right Coke?
Potentially Coke’s world HQ in downtown Atlanta does not have have cable TV allowing them to access CNN, a fellow ATL headquartered company?
On January 23, 2014 a youtube video posted which was #CheersToSochi Coca-Cola with scenes of anti-gay footage in Sochi spliced into a vintage Coca-Cola ad.
Coke posted the original ad commercial on their Facebook page just 3 days later on January 26th. The description of the video is that of “…love, equality and happiness“.
Coke’s social media team has been avid on moderating of posts and quickly removing any that present any public dissent or raise awareness to the timing of this post. Clearly it was a coincidence on timing and reference to love, equality and happiness, right?
Let’s not overlook how in South Africa (where same-sex marriage is legal since 2006) the “Share a Virtual Coke” (Article: Coke Apologized for Antigay Social Media Tool) had to be pulled as it refused gay words including as “gay”, “lesbian” and “queer”.
What error did the website give –
“Oops. Let’s pretend you didn’t just type that. Please try another name.”
For some, this may resonate as from earlier times in our lives, looking to a loved one and saying, “I’m Gay” . There response –
“Oops. Let’s pretend you didn’t just say that”
Coca-Cola is under additional controversy for their Super Bowl Ad “It’s Beautiful” for the lyrics being sung in “non English” and featuring two dads. (Article: Coca-Cola includes Gay Dads in Super Bowl Ad).
Coca-Cola made a very bold statement in what was a paramount nationally televised event but on the other side of the spectrum it doesn’t negate how they have turned a blind-eye. (Note: The message beyond Coca-Cola’s “It’s Beautiful” was truly beautiful and highlights the melting pot of America. Sadly when America’s response is “Our national anthem should be sung in English” shows just how patriotic people really are not.
Coke being a sponsoring partner of the 2014 Olympic games yet so passive about the elephant in the room is far worst then if they supported it but yielded some response. The power of putting your money where your mouth goes very far. The Opening Ceremony IOC asked to put politics aside for the Spirit of the Games; the overshadowing of the games has saddened me for the people of a very beautiful country and its culture.
Alas, the more I have experienced corporate America the more I have come to realize that often times diversity is driven by revenue potential for a demographic with disposable income and / or a companies goal to achieve a goal on a scorecard (HRC Index). One can only hope that the output of achieving a high score results in some means a true embracing of diversity. Unfortunately when things are tackled in a checklist approach, they are often checked off, and forgotten about.
Why this tangent? While St. Petersburg is now off the bucket list, it reminds me of the immense appreciation for the freedoms we have as Americans. In addition for those who have and continue to defend our freedoms everyday. While LGBT rights are extremely fragmented and limited they are by far much greater then many laws around the globe that yield strong oppression against the LGBT community.