AT&T speaks out against Russia’s anti-gay laws
February 5, 2014
AT&T, a major Winter Olympics advertiser and a long-time sponsor of the United States Olympic Committee, though not a sponsor of the Winter Games, took an unusually clear, strong and public stance against Russia’s anti-gay law on Tuesday.
The telecommunications giant offered this statement in a blog post: “Russia’s law is harmful to LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) individuals and families, and it’s harmful to a diverse society.’:
With this statement, AT&T becomes the first major corporation with a history of direct Olympic ties to speak out so strongly on the specific issue of gay rights related to the Sochi Games.
In Russia, it remains a crime to even defend gay rights. Russian President Vladimir Putin has been ambiguous in his own comments — noting that while he welcomes gay visitors to the The Games, the aim of the law is to protect children.
The move by AT&T likely will put added pressure on major Olympics sponsors — including Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Visa — to very specifically address this same issue. All have offered strong statements against discrimination, but not have specifically spoken out against the Russian law. Since these companies will continue to do business in Russia, long after the Olympics are over, it gets more complex for them to specifically condemn Russian laws.
The Winter Games, which begin on Thursday, are attracting political attention far beyond the world of sports. AT&T’s comments came shortly after the Human Rights Campaign, a large gay and transgender rights group, specifically asked Olympic sponsors to condemn the law.
But one marketing strategy consultant seriously questions AT&Ts move. “As a fundamental principal, companies should not be involved in these moral or personal issues,” says Al Ries, co-founder of Ries & Ries. “Almost any position a company takes, someone else in the company will disagree with. They’re in the business of making products for or providing services for customers. ”
(source, thank you http://www.usatoday.com/)