It’s been four days since Coca-Cola-sponsored Olympic security, apparently sporting the Coke logo, roughed up and arrested a gay Russian human rights advocate for simply waving a rainbow flag along the parade route of the Olympic flame. And still no statement from Coca-Cola explaining their complicity in the attack.
Pavel Lebedev was simply waving a small rainbow flag along the parade route, in his hometown of Voronezh, Russia, when Coca-Cola-sponsored security jumped him for exercising his freedom of speech and voicing his support for human rights.
As we’d reported earlier, Olympic security, in blue uniforms (see photos below), wore only a select few corporate logos on their uniforms, one of which was the Coke logo, either on their pant leg and/or their coat/hoodie.
At the time of our reporting, while all the other “blue” Olympic flame security were wearing the Coke logo (in the photos we could find), only part of the logo was visible on the man who assaulted the gay rights advocate. I’ve since communicated with a gay rights group in the region that assures me that all of the blue Olympic flame security were wearing the same logos, and that the assaulter must have been wearing the Coke logo, just like every other blue Olympic flame security agent.
In an effort to look into just how ubiquitous Coca-Cola’s branding was in the anti-gay attack, I also obtained additional photos from Pavel Lebedev’s friends in Russia, who smartly photographed the entire arrest, and it’s astonishing the degree to which Coke’s branding was everywhere in the photos of the attack. See below.
This is truly one of the biggest corporate branding blunders in American history.
Coke has a lot of explaining to do. For example:
1. Why would Coca-Cola sponsor Olympic security officers to begin with?
Coke knows that the job of security is to rough people up. And in this case, Coke surely knew that there was a very good chance that its sponsored-security-personnel would be roughing up gay civil rights activists. So why did Coke permit its logo to be placed on Olympic security personnel?
2. And just as importantly, how many gay people need to get beaten up by Coke-sponsored security before Coca-Cola removes its branding from these thugs?
Has Coca-Cola asked the Russians to remove its branding from the security uniforms? And will Coca-Cola return any money it made from the gay-bashing security personnel wearing the Coke logo?
I can write about this every day. At some point, Coke needs to come clean.