Olympic Advertisers Come Out in Support of Gay Rights

PHOTO: Gay rights activists carry rainbow flags as they march during a May Day rally in St. Petersburg, Russia on Wednesday, May 1, 2013.
Dmitry Lovetsky/AP Photo

There has been no shortage of protests and calls for Olympic sponsors to take a firm stance on gay rights in the lead-up to the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, especially in light of Russia's anti-gay propaganda laws last year and international outcry following Russian President Putin's recent comments linking homosexuality and pedophilia.

But only a few companies have chosen to hop off the fence and voice a solid standpoint on gay rights, at the risk of entangling their brands in political controversy, while the Olympics' top 10 corporate sponsors have stayed comparatively silent.

Chevrolet

The latest brand to declare its support for gay rights is unofficial sponsor Chevrolet, which put out two ads during the American screening of the Olympic opening ceremony on Friday that both feature gay couples.

One ad, called "The New Us," shows a gay male couple with a son and daughter as part of a montage of different types of families, while the other includes a shot of a same-sex wedding ceremony among varied images of America.

PHOTO: Google Inc. updated its iconic search page logo to depict illustrations of athletes skiing, sledding, curling and skating against a rainbow-colored backdrop, Feb. 6, 2014.
Google.com/AP Photo
Google

Google also made a colorful display to back gay rights on Friday by changing the Google Doodle, the search engine's illustrated logo, which depicted athletes performing various winter sports against a rainbow background.

Google, also not an official Olympic sponsor, timed the release of its logo on its homepage worldwide to the same time the opening ceremony would be taking place Russia.

The company preferred not to comment on the move, saying it hoped the Doodle would speak for itself.

PHOTO: A general view of the exterior of the AT&T store in Times Square is shown on Feb. 21, 2013 in New York City.
Ben Hider/Getty Images
AT&T

The telecommunications company posted a blog on Feb. 4 declaring its opposition to Russia's anti-propaganda law.

"AT&T has a long and proud history of support for the LGBT community in the United States and everywhere around the world where we do business. We support LGBT equality globally and we condemn violence, discrimination and harassment targeted against LGBT individuals everywhere. Russia's law is harmful to LGBT individuals and families, and it's harmful to a diverse society," the statement read.

The company is not an IOC sponsor, but is a longtime sponsor of the United States Olympic Committee.

VIDEO: Whole Foods says it will no longer sell Chobani to make room for other products.
Chobani

Following in the footsteps of AT&T, the CEO of Greek yogurt company Chobani, which sponsors the U.S. Olympic team made a simple and clear-cut statement about gay rights the next day, stating: "We oppose Russia's anti-LGBT law."

"It's disappointing that in 2014 this is still an issue," Chobani CEO Hamdi Ulukaya told the AP. "We are against all laws and practices that discriminate in any way, whether it be where you come from or who you love."

Chobani was recently also in another snafu with Russian officials, who blocked the shipment of 5,000 tubs cups of Greek yogurt to Sochi due to bureaucratic import issues.

PHOTO: A general view of atmosphere is seen during DeVry University?s National HerWorld Event on March 8, 2013, in New York City.
Brian Ach/AP Images
DeVry University

The same day Chobani declared its stance, DeVry University, an official educational provider to Olympic athletes, released this statement:

"As a USOC sponsor, DeVry University, and its parent organization DeVry Education Group, supports the diversity of our US Olympic & Paralympic athletes, as well as our DeVry Group colleagues around the world. We are against Russia's anti-LGBT law & support efforts to improve LGBT equality."

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