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Pride month brand failure shows need for action on rainbows


Last year, Bud Light ran outdoor ads during Pride Month featuring a rainbow-colored bottle of beer and the letters LGBTQ to stand for “Let’s Grab Beers Tonight, Queens.” It didn’t really sit well with all of its target audience. Like Erica Lenti featured him in Toronto’s LGBTQ Magazine Extra, “There is something so poignant about having your identities erased in favor of selling beer. . . in an advertisement intended to celebrate your identities.

It’s become an annual tradition each June, watching brands rush to celebrate cultural moments such as Pride and Juneteenth in a way that doesn’t feel like dishonest exploitation or complacency. In that regard, the corny acronym Bud Light was a minor infraction. Pfizer celebrated LGBTQ members of its employee community with a video and the hashtag #PfizerProudeven as the company donated nearly $1 million to 52 anti-gay politicians in 2018. Popular informationJudd Legum made the same point about AT&T this year.

In the year 2022, a rainbow isn’t going to cut it. It’s a year when as many as 280 anti-trans proposals hit state legislatures, according to the human rights campaign. Brands can no longer rely on performative acts of recognition on certain days or months to reinforce their progressive or diversity good faith, especially when it comes to young people. According to AI-powered data platform Influential, just 14% of Gen Z viewed rainbow flag campaigns favorablycompared to 42% of baby boomers.

Ryan Detwiler, director of client services at global consultancy Prophet, says that before participating in Pride, brands must actively support LGBTQ+ causes from July through May, and despite the positive results of raising awareness of an issue through their media reach, brands also need to demonstrate that they are genuinely committed to this issue.

“Make sure your brand’s purpose reflects LGBTQ+ values, such as having LGBTQ+ members in leadership positions to showcase LGBTQ+ representation in the company’s market outreach, such as advertising and social media throughout the year, will give substance to the Pride initiative,” says Detwiler.

Two brands with very different approaches this year are Ben & Jerry’s and Burger King. The former tied his Pride marking with a call for awareness and support to fight anti-trans legislation in many different states. While the latter, as part of a new promotion in Austria, remixed the Proud Whopper in using two top buns or two bottom buns on the burger. Who seems most in touch with the culture of the issues facing this community?

Brands like Macy’s and Kate Spade have added credibility to their Pride efforts by partnering with The Trevor Project, a crisis support organization for LGBTQ youth, doing meaningful work year-round in this community. As Latarria Coy, Ethical Media Manager at Influential, said Advertising week“Consumers of all generations prefer to align themselves with brands that make monetary contributions to organizations that will benefit the LGBTQ+ community and not just rainbow flag campaigns.”

For older consumers brought up in extreme discrimination, corporate and brand recognition might have felt like progress. But there is a generation of people who have seen pride celebrated every year of their lives, and for them recognition is not enough. They want shares. Ryan Ford, President and Chief Creative Officer at Cashmere Agencysays this may be the biggest change in years, and brands need to prepare for it.

“Brands are pressure tested at every stage because people are fed up,” Ford says. “The tone and tenor of the culture has shifted from ‘We just want to be heard’ to ‘You better figure this out, or we’re coming after you. Demanding change and forcing change is the tone of young consumers right now. »