As the Winter Olympic games began in Sochi last week, British sports car manufacturer Lotus did something unexpected: the social media team for its Formula One racing division sent out a tweet offering its best wishes to all Olympic competitors, accompanied by a photo of two men kissing. This was presumably in response to the spate of appalling (and appallingly vague) laws recently passed in Russia to restrict the rights of LGBT citizens.
According to the BBC, the tweet didn’t sit well with Genii Capital, which owns Lotus’ F1 team. That’s because:
1. The company claimed that the tweet was causing blowback from some of its (presumably homophobic) investors;
2. Genii has significant interests in Russia, which has been working overtime to defend the aforementioned anti-LGBT laws that have overshadowed much of the Winter Olympic media coverage; and,
3. Russian phone company Yotaphone has purchased a significant interest in Lotus’ F1 team, and presumably, Yotaphone is a-okay with the aforementioned legislation.
And so, Genii Capital made the Lotus F1 social media team delete the tweet, because money. Which is perhaps to be expected, because investment firms aren’t really about social activism anyway.
Frankly, we were a little surprised to see the tweet in the first place. It’s weird for a few reasons:
For starters, Lotus has never been entirely clear on its policies toward LGBT employees — though since it’s based in England, where some LGBT workplace protections are written into law, it presumably offers a few.
Then, there’s the fact that Lotus is a sports car manufacturer, and sports car manufacturers cater to a certain demographic — one that’s presumed to be full of manly, skirt-chasing men, not unlike the best-known Lotus driver to date, James Bond. The F1 demographic on the receiving end of this tweet is stereotypically even more testosterone-fueled. Tweeting support for gay men seems slightly off-mark.
But weirdest of all is the accompanying photo. Just look at it. After reading the tweet, you might expect a photo of a diverse group of Olympians holding hands in the snow, or maybe a mix of families, but this looks like a promo shot from the latest LucasFilms all-male extravaganza. It’s got nothing to do with sports (so far as we can tell) or the Olympics, much less Lotus.
In sum, we were more surprised by the tweet itself than by Genii’s retraction. It looked like the work of a hacker, or maybe a disgruntled employee on her way out the door for the very last time — either of which would explain why Genii said it was “unauthorized”.
Still, cheers to whomever sent it.