Russian gays should sport Coke, McDonald’s and Visa logos while being arrested

If Russian gay activists want to get the attention of, and put pressure on, the Putin government, then they should start sporting the names of the Olympic sponsors as they get arrested.

Money makes the Olympics go ’round. That’s why the International Olympic Committee came out yesterday and said that Russia’s draconian new anti-gay law doesn’t violate the Olympic charter. Had the IOC said otherwise, it would have jeopardized their games, and more importantly, their corporate sponsorships, and their money.  And money is the root of these games in the modern era. It’s not about the world coming together in peace and harmony, or we wouldn’t be holding the games in such unpeaceful and inharmonious countries as China and Russia.  The Olympic Games exist to promote the Olympic Games, their sponsors, and the “respectability” of an increasingly disreputable cast of host countries.

And the IOC won’t care about Russia’s horrific record on human rights, and the Russian government won’t care, unless we hit them where it hurts: the Money.

Whether or not you think boycotting the Olympics is the best way to go, we all agree that the key pressure point in the campaign against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s anti-gaye crackdown is the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The Olympics are now driving the media coverage on this issue, and the Olympics are Vladimir Putin’s soft underbelly on this entire matter. Putin desperately needs the Olympics to go off without a hitch – he sees the games as his legacy.

It’s our job to give Putin’s legacy the biggest hitch possible. And I can’t think of a more effective strategy than scaring off the Olympic corporate sponsors, and their millions.

The sponsors have the money, and they’ve got the influence. The last thing Putin needs is Olympic sponsors, and their cold, hard foreign currency, bidding the games dasvidaniya.  Especially when Russia is so worried about decreasing corporate investment.  But that’s exactly what those businesses will do – reconsider their investments – if their multi-million dollar brands start getting dragged through the mud along with a couple dozen human rights advocates.

How do you scare the sponsors? Plaster their names all over yourself – on signs, across your clothing, even across your forehead – during your next protest, during every protest, in Russia and abroad.  (Everyone understands that protesting in Russia is dangerous. But to the extent that activists are already planning protests, they should emblazon those protests with the names and logos of the top Olympic corporate sponsors.)

Take this iconic image below of a gay pride protest being broken up in Moscow in 2011, or the one below it of a protester at the Sochi Olympics headquarters the other day.  The protesters were not sporting any logos, but what if they were?

I’ve taken the first photo, sans logo, and added a Coca-Cola logo to it – Coke is one of the Sochi Olympics sponsors.  Imagine if LGBT activists had been dragged away by Russian police with the words “Coca-Cola” emblazoned across their chest, like in the doctored photo below? Imagine how much more newsworthy this photo would have been?  And imagine the damage to the Coke brand?

I did the same with the second photo, adding Visa to the hat of the woman as she’s being dragged away from the Sochi Olympics headquarters. Imagine the power of that image.

You want the Olympic sponsors’ attention?  You want Vladimir Putin’s attention?  You want the attention of the world focused like a laser beam on Russia’s anti-gay and anti-trans crackdown?

Then Coke is it.

And make sure Visa is everywhere you want to be arrested.


Russian police detain a gay rights activist during an attempt to hold the unauthorized gay pride parade on May 28, 2011 in Moscow, Russia. The Coca-Cola logo was added via Photoshop to demonstrate how activists can up their game in these protests. (kojoku /

Russian protesters arrested at the Sochi Olympics headquarters. Visa logo added via Photoshop to demonstrate a possible protest technique.

Russian protesters arrested at the Sochi Olympics headquarters. Visa logo added via Photoshop to demonstrate a possible protest technique.

CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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19 Responses to “Russian gays should sport Coke, McDonald’s and Visa logos while being arrested”

  1. Jay says:

    Perfect! However, I wonder how is HRC still being an association with VISA. Or, other way, how is VISA is playing double cards with HRC and Sochi 2014

  2. Ken Clark says:

    My only concern is that it might make the sponsors look like the victims as well.

  3. Palto says:

    John this is a brilliant idea. God bless you (and I’m an atheist)

  4. Anonymous says:

    Great idea. I think in some ways, they don’t understand how powerless we Americans are without getting the media/sponsors involved. This would make a huge impact during the Olympic games.

  5. Luigi Proud DemoCat! says:

    If you’re going to do fake pictures, put the logos on the police and neo-nazis.

  6. Luigi Proud DemoCat! says:

    Perhaps, Coca Cola would like to send some of these to the police in Russia.

  7. Drew2u says:

    of course the photo-thing isn’t working. Why would it?

    Anywho, I took a photo of a display case of 20oz Coca Cola bottles at Walmart last weekend and it read “Always Low Prices $1.99”.
    Yes, because income has fallen this past decade but soda-pop has doubled in price. It makes me wonder if those in charge have their own reality of catering to that top 10%. $1-$2 doesn’t matter much if one is making $60,000, it’s more of the paycheck when one is only making 1/2 to 1/3rd that.

  8. Drew2u says:

    Speaking of Coca Cola, I took this snapshot last weekend because it baffled me with its arrogance.
    (let’s see if the uploady-thingy is going to work)

  9. Mr.Pink says:

    Great idea! I also think protestors and allies should wear the blue & white paratrooper uniforms as an act of solidarity; complete with jaunty beret ! Those uniforms were so gay, and they can’t arrest someone for wearing a uniform can they?

  10. Bill_Perdue says:

    Excellent suggestion, but it omits the worst of the homophobic corporations – NBC-MSNBC-Comcast-NBC Universal.

    NBC was aware of the progress of the Russian bigot law as early as 2006: “Human Rights Watch (HRW) notes that before Sochi was chosen for the 2014 games, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and other stakeholders, including American multinational sponsors of the Winter Olympics, as well as NBC Universal, which has the broadcast contract, carefully tracked the path of the legislation… .”

  11. FLL says:

    The ad above is not authentic. Here is an authentic Coca-Cola ad from the 1936 Berlin Olympics (from the same web page):

  12. karmanot says:

    Brilliant idea!

  13. emjayay says:

    Wow, a perfect marriage of German iconography and nationalism and modern advertising.

    A people, a kingdom/realm/empire, a drink

    Coke is it

    Old German style type for the slogan modern sounding slogan, modern sans serif typeface for the XI. Olympic Games Berlin 1936, Olympic rings, Coca-Cola logo with the Nazi logo at a similar slant in the background. I’m guessing that the background color is relating to something olde German. Brilliant.

  14. Lthomas320 says:

    I agree with John and jomicur. Brilliant idea. If not for my politically sensitive job, I’d be on social media promoting it.

  15. mirror says:

    Definitely time on the calendar to start talking about and to the sponsors.

  16. pappyvet says:

    They’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony……except for…

  17. FLL says:

    The perfect blast from the past for the Sochi Olympics:

  18. FLL says:

    Boycotts, at least ones that have any effect, involve things that consumers pay money for. In the case of international sports events, like the Olympics, all the better if those products are marketed worldwide, as is the case with the soft drinks and burgers that Coca-Cola and McDonald’s sell. A corporate logo is a powerful visual image, and consumers worldwide would instantly identify the Coke, McDonald’s and Visa logos with products they pay for every day. Since these logos represent products that people pay for (and could stop paying for, if they chose), they are the ideal tactic to use in order to make the Sochi Games a commercial and public relations failure. Coke, McDonald’s and Visa are all perfect fits, but if you were to pick a “favorite” product, take a look at this nostalgic website that Karmanot found on another thread showing the surprising extent of Coca-Cola in Nazi Germany during the 1930s:

    “Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Getrank—Coke ist es” (One People, One Nation, One Drink—Coke is it)

    In terms of modern-day and historical bigotry, the Coca-Cola company may as well have painted a target on its back.

  19. jomicur says:

    Brilliant suggestion. I love it.

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