American Apparel, the US clothes retailer that is no stranger to controversial marketing campaigns, has linked with LGBT campaign groups All Out and Athlete Ally to create an initiative called Principle 6 – a clothing line led campaign challenging Russia’s ‘anti-gay laws’ ahead of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.
At the heart of the campaign, the LA brand (which has no official sponsorship ties to Sochi 2014) is a clothing and merchandise range based on the IOC’s own Olympic charter’s Principle 6 – ‘Sport does not discriminate on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise’.
By choosing the Olympic charter’s own language, the hope was that competing athletes could wear the clothes without actually running foul of Russia’s ban on homosexual ‘propaganda’ or the IOC’s rules against political activation at its Games.
The overall objective is to use the range to promote the Olympic principle of inclusion and campaign that Russia’s anti-LGBT discrimination is incompatible with the Olympic movement.
Proceeds from the sale of Principle 6 products go to support the campaign and to LGBT advocacy groups in Russia fighting discrimination and anti-gay laws.
In addition to the product-led strategy, the web-based campaign includes both traditional advertising and a heavy social media element (including a shareable, spread the message petition mechanic).
High profile athletes – both going to the games and from other sports – are backing the campaign and playing ambassadorial roles.
These include the NBA’s Steve Nash, former NFL player Chris Kluwe, tennis stars Martina Navratilova and Andy Roddick and Olympic champ Greg Louganis are among the ambassadors for the program.
The campaign also includes Olympic athlete-fronted online video, such as from Olympic Fencer Imke Duplizter.
Principle 6 has also received support from Sochi athletes such as Australian snowboarder Belle Brockhoff, New Zealander speed skater Blake Skjellerup and Canadian alpine skier Mike Janyk.
The roots of this campaign lie in activist groups recruiting American Apparel to join and lead the Principle 6 campaign, but the retailer has quickly become a key driver of the initiative.
The brand’s involved has boosted the campaign’s media coverage around the world.
Indeed, according to creative director Iris Alonzo, the range – which includes tee-shirts, crop tops, jerseys and briefs – have become the best selling items on the brand’s website,
‘American Apparel has always stood up for the LGBT community,’ says Alonzo. ‘The idea of excluding anyone from the Olympic Games based on their sexual orientation is unthinkable. We are proud to join Athlete Ally and All Out to provide a way for athletes and fans to speak out against unjust discrimination.’
Activist groups involved in Principle 6 have also been viocally lobbying Olympic sponsors.
For example, All Out held a demonstration outside Coca-Cola’s Atlanta headquarters 100 days before the start of the Games.
Principle 6 Website
Principle 6 Facebook
American Apparel Online Store
American Apparel Website
All Out Website
Athlete Ally Website