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Sponsors of the Sochi Olympics don't seem to be experiencing the backlash that some had predicted over Russia's anti-gay laws, new research suggests, and non-sponsor Chevrolet has achieved big boosts among gay and lesbian consumers by introducing a commercial showing gay families during Olympics coverage.
Lesbian and gay purchase consideration for Chevrolet has skyrocketed, according to YouGov BrandIndex, which says it conducts online polls of 4,300 adults each weekday from a representative sample of the U.S. population. Chevy's perception and purchase consideration have barely moved among consumers more broadly, YouGov BrandIndex said.
No official international or U.S. sponsors of the Olympics have increased purchase consideration to a significant amount, YouGov BrandIndex said, but Chobani has increased its purchase consideration and positive buzz more than any other official sponsor. Chobani also grew word of mouth more than any sponsor but Coca-Cola, according to YouGov BrandIndex.
"Buzz" in this case gauges whether consumers are hearing more positive or negative sentiment about a brand. YouGov BrandIndex's Buzz scores are calculated by subtracting negative feedback from positive and range from 100 down to -100, with zero indicating equal positive and negative feedback.
Word of mouth reflects the brands that respondents said they had talked about with friends and family online or in person during the past two weeks. Purchase consideration reflects the brands respondents said they would consider when they were next in the market. Scores for word of mouth and purchase consideration range from 0% to 100%.
About 20,000 U.S. adults were interviewed for the Olympics research, according to the company.
Visa has also made significant improvements in consumer perception, YouGov BrandIndex said. Visa's ads star Morgan Freeman celebrating Olympic moments.
Chobani may have actually benefited when Russian officials wouldn't let its shipment of Greek yogurt into the Olympic village, citing paperwork problems. Chobani responded by donating 5,000 yogurt cups to food banks in the U.S.
Chobani, like some other sponsors, took to Twitter to subtly criticize Russia's law against gay "propaganda."
Anger over the law had created concern that brands associated with the Sochi Olympics would lose ground among consumers, but gay and lesbian perception of most official sponsors has actually moved up in the first week of the games, YouGov BrandIndex said.