A lot of the social media buzz during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics surrounded LGBT issues and Russia’s anti-gay law. Sochi sponsor Coca-Cola was unable to escape that buzz.
Russia has an anti-gay law that bans pro-gay “propaganda” that could be accessible to minors. Critics say it is so restrictive that it forbids almost any public expression of support for gay rights.
Coca-Cola launched a social media campaign allowing users to type in their name or a message through their website and see it printed on a virtual Coca-Cola can, which they can then share with friends and followers on social media networks. Coca-Cola faced a big problem when users started to notice when they typed the word “gay,” Coca-Cola responded with, “Oops. Let’s pretend you didn’t just type that.” However, if users were to type the word “straight,” the website allowed them to.
The social media campaign was meant to send positive messages to Olympic athletes, cheering them on, but after Olympic gay rights activists hijacked their social media campaign for not supporting LGBT rights, Coca-Cola’s social media campaign went down the drain.
An organization called Queer Nation NY re-edited Coca-Cola’s famous 1971 commercial from singers on a hilltop called “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” to scenes of protesters in Russia being attacked for publicly expressing gay rights.
Coca-Cola responded by uploading the commercial to Facebook and adding the comment, “Cheers to the fact that a song can top the charts and be above love, equality and happiness. #AmericaIsBeautiful.” Coca-Cola’s response played on their Super Bowl campaign, America is Beautiful and Coke is for everyone and continued with #AmericaIsBeautiful throughout the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games.
Coca-Cola took a big hit with their social media campaign as did other big sponsors like McDonald’s and Visa, but I think Coca-Cola responded well to their crisis by applying their super bowl message to the Sochi Winter Olympics.
What do you think of Coca-Cola’s Sochi social media campaign and how they responded to the crisis?