An Olympic Sized Sponsorship Suggestion
Yes, you are the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and yes, you wield a large amount of power. You hold this power because you’re favored and embraced by billions of people on the planet. You exist, in part, because corporations provide you with funds, through sponsorship dollars – and you allow those companies to activate their relationship with the Olympics and protect their rights to do so. Good for you.
However, the current gay rights issue in Russia will unravel the whole feel good experience if you’re not careful. See, companies need to embrace the LGBT community and not just because there exists a percentage of their business that depends on that community. It’s the wider scope of consumers that have decided it’s not just okay to be gay, but a RIGHT to be so. If you force the hand of those companies to turn their back on this community – sponsors will end up turning their back on you.
Listen IOC, it’s NOT your fault this is happening. Your selection committee chose Sochi – and the Russian government’s ill-timed release of their stance about the gay community is not a reflection on you or your committee. By simply releasing a statement that the IOC embraces all communities and diverse people, you will have done ALL YOU CAN to protect the rights of those global citizens participating in and attending the Olympics. And that may be enough. Period. That’s all you need to do to get your corporate partners out of hot water. That’s all you need to do to ensure those billions of people will still embrace you.
That’s not all.
Perhaps, in the same statement, you can arm your selection committee with the caveat that you will not seek future Olympic game locations that prohibit the inclusion of all people of their inalienable rights (or whatever language you chose). If a country wants to bid on the Olympics, they would be required to embrace your policies for the inclusion of a diverse audience. By including this new language and separating your policy from that of the Russian governments, you will defuse your sponsor’s current crisis. They will be glad you did. Because the longer you wait, the uglier this is going to get for them. And, it could force the hand of multi-national companies like McDonalds and Coke to tell you to find other sponsors for your games.
David Rachell is currently president and founding partner of SponsorPark, a strategic sponsorship marketing firm supporting brands and rights holders. SponsorPark’s mission is to improve the industry by providing tools and documenting best practices. David has served in a number of capacities within the industry for 18 years and has developed a number of successful cause and promotional related sponsorships for brands like Nestle Waters, Mission Foods, TJ Maxx, Whole Foods Market, Dr Pepper Snapple Group and others. Connect with David on SponsorPitch here.