For fans of the Latvian team competing in the Winter Olympics, the gains of Salt Lake City have been eroded by what happened Feb. 12 in Vancouver. Just as in previous Olympics, the American television network NBC cut away for a commercial during the moments Latvian athletes—with skeletonist Martins Dukurs carrying the maroon-white-maroon flag—were due to enter Olympic Stadium as part of the opening ceremony.
“Latvia once again screwed and missed for opening ceremonies,” one fan wrote on her Twitter timeline.
For the 2002 games in Salt Lake City, Latvian-Americans convinced NBC to show the team’s entrance live. For the Vancouver games, Latvia only got a brief mention when the network returned from its commercial break.
Artis Inka, editor of the Chicago-area Web site cikaga.com, now is urging readers to contact NBC to make sure the network at least fulfills its promise to provide complete coverage of the Feb. 16 Latvia vs. Russia hockey game.
“As we are all painfully aware, NBC continued its long tradition of virtually ignoring the Latvian Olympic team, as it marched in the opening ceremony,” Inka wrote in a posting on the site’s forum. “This reoccurring inequitable treatment seems to be corporate policy.”
We say it’s time for a different tactic. Let’s not fight NBC and its corporate policy. Instead, let’s join the network in its commercial endeavors: Latvia should just buy a 30-second spot during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics scheduled in the Russian resort city of Sochi.
The commercial might cost about USD 1 million, but it could be money well spent. Several clever marketing campaigns promoting Latvia have been created in recent years. Latvia’s marketers could do it again, perhaps even having some fun at the network’s expense: “Sveiks. We’re Latvia. Right now our team is entering the stadium, waving our flag. But you probably didn’t want to see that anyway…”
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