There’s no doubt security was one of the biggest concerns at this years Winter Olympics. However, Russia’s anti-gay policies were likely one of the most widely talked about topics, both before and during the games. But whether Russian President Vladimir Putin likes it or not, some would argue the winter games have always been a little gay.
That’s according to the Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion. The organization published this ad to play up the homoerotic nature of the luge.
The 2014 Winter Olympics came under huge scrutiny when Putin passed his anti-gay legislation last year. It bans the “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors,” and essentially limits the rights of the country’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people.
“Oh, Canada, you’re so diverse and inclusive. I like that about you … Take that, Putin.”
Others, like a writer for Liberty Voice, say the company could’ve gone with a a tune that did a better job of suggesting the “wonderfully gay core of the 80s.” Charles Mudede, a contributing writer for Slog said the following might have been better.
Either way, I think humor is the best way to go when tackling such a sensitive topic. The ad makes you at least chuckle, while highlighting the need for the Olympics to remain inclusive of everyone.
Corruption and sports are two of Russia’s favorite pastimes.
From now until Feb. 23 both will be on full display at the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. These Winter Olympics are the most expensive Olympics ever, costing $51 billion. As the world arrives in Sochi, journalists are finding everything from unpainted rooms to restrooms with two toilets in the same stall. Threats from terrorists and cyberattackers also create an ominous shadow for games that are meant to bring the world together.
Snow in a Sub-Tropical Resort
The mere presence of the games in Sochi is a symbol of the corrupt nature of these games. Sochi is a summer resort town next to the Black Sea.
Snow? Well Sochi has it. Sort of.
Organizers stored snow from last year under special thermo blankets. NBC News reports that 75 percent of Sochi’s snow is manmade, using 403 snow guns that line Sochi’s mountains. If Sochi still doesn’t have enough snow, si.com reports that organizers built a snow making plant that can make snow at temperatures up to 59 degrees.
The snow isn’t the only quirk at these games. Far from it. Sochi is the warmest place in an otherwise cold country. High temperatures were in the 50s and 60s this week in Sochi. Highs were in the 40s and 50s in the mountains. Some skiers even skied in short sleeves.
Highs are expected to be in the mid to upper 50s this week as well:
There’s also the issue of toilet trouble. Bloomberg news is one of many media outlets to report that many restroom stalls in Sochi have two toilets and no partition to divide them.
Bloggers and Russians are seeing the toilet gaffs as symbols of corruption that caused the cost of the games to soar. The internet meme below combines the word Sochi with the Russian word for taking a crap.
There’s also a pillow shortage in Sochi. Deadspin reports that Luiza Baybakova, a member of the catering company, posted this photo on Instagram telling volunteers that pillows will be transferred from their apartments to a storehouse.
The pillows will then be given to athletes who “unexpectedly arrived”.
But wait, Sochi’s doors must hate U.S. Bobsledder Johnny Quinn.
Saturday Quinn got stuck in a bathroom in Sochi when he showered before an appearance the “Today” show. Quinn couldn’t open the door and had to run through the door to get out. Quinn tweeted this photo after he finally got out.
Courtesy Johnny Quinn
It’s hard to believe, but Monday Quinn and two other bobsledders found themselves stuck in an elevator. Quinn said ” No one is going to believe this but we just got stuck in an elevator.”
Courtesy Johnny Quinn
Even the opening ceremonies at the games were not spared embarrassment. The ceremonies tried to highlight Russia’s strength and power in the world. But once again Russia showed what $51 billion couldn’t buy. Five snowflakes were supposed to change into Olympic rings, but one malfunctioned.
When Dmitry Chernyshenko was appointed the CEO of the Sochi 2014 Bid Committee, Russia put its Olympics bid into the hands of an advertising man. That was not a bad decision. Chernyshenko seems to have the perfect hands for brandishing a magical wand over the country.
The head of the 2014 Games in Sochi now calls himself the “happiest man in the world,” in part because he gets to play a key role in “creating an historical legacy for the country” (AFP).
Remaking Russia’s image to the rest of the world seems to be Chernyshenko’s primary role in the 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games. The games will transform the city of Sochi into a world-class resort, dispelling its Soviet-era aura. This transformation is intended to set an example for the rest of Russia. More importantly, though, it is meant to prove to the world that Russia is moving forward.
Chernyshenko compared hosting the Olympic games to a “magic wand” for Russia. He said, “Sochi will show the new face of modern Russia and break the old stereotypes” (Financial Times).
In branding the Winter 2014 Olympics, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chernyshenko and the rest of the Olympic committee seem to be branding a new Russia. So what do the different brand elements for Sochi say about what these leaders want others to view as the new Russia?
Let’s start with the logo. At the end of 2009, the Sochi Olympic logo was revealed and rightfully praised for its futurism. It’s the first Olympics logo to include a URL, and its simplicity makes it an international symbol rather than a cultural one (Adweek).
The London 2012 logo (left) and Sochi 2014 logo (right) are both attempts at modernizing the Olympics logo. (Image from Popsop.com)
Many people have compared it to the London 2012 Olympics logo, calling both radical departures from the traditional Olympics logo designs. I looked up a list of previous Olympics logos and quickly discovered why. Instead of placing the location of the games and the year below the logo, they were incorporated into the overall design.
It seems where London failed, Sochi succeeded. The London games promoted themselves as social, but Sochi proved that they were social by including the URL. And bonus, adding the .ru included Russia in the logo. A few Londonians even prefer the Russian logo.
“The organisers managed to not only provide great branding opportunity for Sochi, but they also managed to capture the essence of promoting the whole nation in that little .ru,” said Klara Lettavova, a writer at WebCertain who studies at the London School of Economics.
Fred Burt, managing director of the design agency Siegel+Gale London said, “I’m no fan of the London 2012 identity so it’s good to see Sochi 2014 restore some sanity. It feels fresh and up-to-date, promising a new Russia that perhaps the wider world doesn’t know (think how Beijing benefitted in this regard)” (LogoDesignLove).
So what does the Sochi 2014 logo say about Russia? “Sochi.ru” says that Sochi should be connected with Russia, and what is developed in Sochi reflects Russia. The “.ru” says that Russia is looking towards the future. The simplicity of design puts Russia on a clean slate. It’s also easily accepted for all cultures of the world, which is what Russia desires to be.
Feel enlightened? Logos are never as simple as they seem at first glance.
The pictograms for the 2014 Winter Olympics are a modernization of the pictograms used for the 1980 Moscow Olympics, the only other Olympic event to be held in Russia’s (or then the Soviet Union’s) history. The pictograms will be used at event venues, on Sochi 2014 official merchandise and on the Olympics tickets (Filothea).
The Sochi 2014 pictograms (left) were adapted from the Moscow 1980 pictograms (right). (Images from clarkhuotcocoon.com)
“I have no doubt that the pictograms will have particular significance to all residents of Russia, as these new symbols have been influenced by the 1980 Moscow Olympics pictograms, “creating a bridge” from the past to the future,” said Chernyshenko (Sochi 2014).
Just like the logo, these symbols were designed to connect Russia with a new future. They are based on pictograms used by the Soviet Union, but their modernization shows the abandonment of parts of the old Soviet identity.
The patchwork quilt
Another iconic symbol of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics is a patchwork quilt that includes the representation of traditional crafts from each of the 89 regions of Russia (Sochi 2014). The quilt represents diversity. Although it is based in Russia’s history, it is both welcoming and futuristic. Each patch’s pattern is computer generated and modern-looking. So again, we know to connect the ideas of modern and welcoming to Russia – not just to Sochi.
Forming a cohesive picture
All of these elements combine to create a very futuristic picture of Russia. The slogan for the 2014 Winter games, “Hot. Cool. Yours.,” may not have been as sucessful. (Read Brian Bondus’s take on the slogan or go on ahead and make up your own story.)
But a picture is worth a thousand words, and nobody ever remembers the slogan anyway.
Then again, actions speak louder than words. In order for the world to accept a new Russia, the 2014 Winter Olympics will have to be executed in a friendly, modern manner. Russia will also have to live up to its new identity, especially after receiving so many negative headlines lately, like the handling of the Pussy Riot protest, support of the Syrian regime, and even the bulldozing of homes in Sochi to construct structures for the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Presenting a brilliant identity to the world is one thing, but living up to that identity will be what determines the world’s true perception of Russia. We’ll have to wait until 2014 to see if Chernyshenko really is a wizard…or if he’s just an ad man working for a client with an identity crisis.
To create buzz 500 days before the 2014 winter games Russia announced the slogan for the Sochi games, “Hot.Cold.Yours.” I would present two sides to this topic, but except for the Olympic committee everyone seems to be against the new slogan. The USA Today interviewed Sochi 2014 president and CEO Dmitry Chernyshenko and he explained the slogan like this:
“‘Hot’ indicates sports passions and the Games’ venue. ‘Cool’ stands for the time of the year and for how Russia is perceived by the rest of the world, and ‘Yours’ means shorter distances and the inclusive nature of the event.”
2, Rejected marketing campaign for McDonald’s 1980s flop, the McDLT. (“Keep the hot side hot, and the cool side cool,” was the actual one.)
3. The title of Katy Perry’s next album.
Here a YouTube link to the McDonald commercial referenced.
The slogan was not taken well on Twitter in Russia either. The Atlantic explains translation is not as clear as the committee originally announced to the English media. It says the more literal translation is “Hot. Wintry. Yours.” He also says the term, ‘hot’, is more than just temperature. In its context its meaning is closer to passionate, fervent, or sultry. This different meaning has had Russians running to Twitter with sexual jokes. Here are some examples of of the Twitter sexual references:
Tweets from The Atlantic
All joking aside… the slogan sucks! Its not like it even had a lot to live up to. London’s slogan was “Inspire a Generation.” Not much better if you ask me. The best thing for the Sochi Olympics is that people are talking about this slogan rather than delayed construction or other problems that will arise along the way.
Come the times of the games no one will be talking about how bad the slogan is. Most people don’t even know there is an Olympic slogan… and Sochi better hope it stays that way.