Russia is preparing to fire the starting pistol on the 2014 Winter Olympics, an event big corporate sponsors hope will burnish their brands and boost their earnings.
But it's been a bumpy road to the Sochi Games for major sponsors like Coca-Cola(KO), McDonald's(MCD) and Visa(V) after they got caught up in a backlash against a Russian law which critics say infringes gay rights.
President Vladimir Putin signed the legislation in June, sparking global outrage and a wave of protests demanding a boycott of the Games and sponsors' products.
It's not the first time the Olympics have sparked arguments over gay rights. At the 1996 Atlanta Games, the volleyball tournament was pulled from Georgia's Cobb County after protests over an anti-gay law.
Former International Olympic Committee director Michael Payne said Cobb County was an early example of the kind of media storm the Games can generate, and sponsors had learned to roll with the punches.
Since then, the explosion of social media has given campaigners a new platform to exert pressure on big Olympic sponsors, including Samsung(SSNLF), Panasonic(PCRFF), General Electric(GE), Dow Chemical(DOW), Procter & Gamble(PG), Omega(OCFN) and Atos.(AEXAF)
So does this brand bashing have any impact on their investment?
Corporations pay an estimated $100 million to become a major Olympic sponsor. On top of this, they pump massive investment into related marketing campaigns.
"The rights fee is really on the right to spend more money," said John Ivey, managing partner at Boston-based sports marketing consultancy AMM.