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Volume 24 No. 114
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Olympic Marketing Notes: Google Doodle Takes Aim At Gay Rights Issue

The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Paul Sonne notes Google on Thursday "posted a rainbow-colored 'doodle' featuring winter sports on its homepage," marking the opening of the Sochi Games "with an expression of support for gay rights." The image -- which "shows drawings of generic Olympic competitors over the word 'Google' against a rainbow background -- hovered over a quote from the Olympic charter regarding the sports movement’s non-discrimination policy." Anti-gay sentiment in Russia has "become a focal issue ahead of the Olympics ever since last summer." The IOC has "urged athletes to refrain from injecting political statements into the games, a policy that has earned harsh rebukes from gay-rights advocates" (, 2/7). The updated logo "appears on Google pages worldwide" (AP, 2/6).

FOCUSING ON SPORTS: In N.Y., Stuart Elliott writes marketers are "keeping their fingers crossed that the multiple issues threatening to overshadow" the Sochi Games "will not repel American consumers." Century 21 CMO Bev Thorne said, "I can’t do anything other than remain optimistic and hopeful." BMW of North America VP/Marketing Trudy Hardy said "people naturally come together" for the Olympic Games. Hardy said of the issues surrounding Sochi, "All that will be put aside to cheer Team USA on." DDB Chicago Chief Creative Officer John Maxham acknowledged that "concerns like security were legitimate." However, Maxham added, “As marketers we have the luxury, and the duty, to focus on the high ground and not to forget about the athletes and all the work they put in" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/7).

THE HEART OF THE MATTER: In Columbus, Mark Williams notes Nationwide Insurance is "using the Olympics as a backdrop to roll out a television ad touting the ... promise to protect the things that matter most to people." The ad, called "Heart," debuted Thursday night and shows an "assortment of heart-shaped items that consumers value -- their vehicles, home and families." The ad is the "newest one in the insurer’s 'Join the Nation' campaign that Nationwide launched" during the '12 London Games (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 2/7).

The GUARDIAN's Charles Arthur reports athletes reportedly have been "told to cover up Apple logos on iPhones if they use them" at the Opening Ceremony, but both the IOC and TOP sponsor Samsung "deny having told them." A Samsung spokesperson said the company "did not request any action of this nature from athletes" at the Games. The IOC's press office when asked whether it had instigated the move said, "It is not true. Athletes can use any device they wish during the Opening Ceremony" (GUARDIAN, 2/7).