Chevrolet has released two adverts featuring gay couples during the US broadcast of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics opening ceremony on Friday, in what some say is a show of defiance against Russia's gay propaganda laws.
The adverts are the first to feature gay couples during an Olympic broadcast, according to GLAAD, a US advocacy group for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
The first of the two adverts, called "The New Us", highlights the achievements of individuals, such as openly gay Jack Andraka, who developed a breakthrough test for pancreatic cancer at the age of 15. It also features different images of people and communities in America, including a gay couple getting married, high school videos and a man saving another man from a burning building.
"Like the old love the new love starts with a kiss,” a voiceover states. “ Like the old community, the new community still keeps us connected. ... A whole new lineup for a whole new world.”
A Russian law banning gay “propaganda” among children has drawn strong international criticism ahead of the games in Sochi. The host nation’s president Vladimir Puin passed a law in June prohibiting ‘propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors’, which has been widely condemned across the world.
Another advert, which focuses more on family, includes a gay male couple with their son and daughter. “While what it means to be a family hasn't changed, what a family looks like has,” a voiceover states. “This is the new us.”
Three sponsors of the US Olympic Committee, AT&T, DeVry University and yogurt maker Chobani, have spoken out against the so-called Russian anti- gay law. Chevrolet is not an official sponsor and did not comment on the Russian law specifically. In a statement, it said: “these ads ... are not intended as any political commentary.”
But some advertising experts argue the commercials make a "powerful statement". “Actions speak louder than words,” said Allen Adamson, managing director of the New York office of branding firm Landor Associates. “The action of putting a spot on the Olympics is far more powerful than a press release. It's a very clear statement of what they believe Chevy stands for.”
The adverts follow a spoof online only Olympic advert showing two men preparing for luge sledging that argues "the games have always been a little gay. Let’s fight to keep them that way" as two men thrust in time to “Don’t You Want Me” by The Human League.
GLAAD CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said the ads “truly reflect the fabric of our nation, which today includes gay and lesbian families.”
Additional reporting by Associated Press