i wonder what it would be like to live in a world where it was always June.
the pride month, and you.
Lucy Maud Montgomery, a famous Canadian author, said the quote that you read as the title. She obviously meant it in context to the summer, back in the 1900s. Here, in the year 2023, I use it to picture the world as it would be if gay rights were accepted and celebrated all year long by individuals and brands alike. We are in the future. The battles for equality have been fought, minds have been changed, the law has been amended. We now live in an era where brand transparency and authenticity are the bases of consumer interest, and if they get a whiff of opportunism, the deal’s off.
In retrospect, we can’t help but look back at June, the Pride Month, and how it was presented by global marketers. While with every passing year, we witness more minds opening and more people becoming accepting of the LGBTQ+ community, because let’s face it, with rainbows in your face all month long – you run out of ignorance, there is still a lot to be done to incorporate respectful representation. Imagine if your community fought for rights for decades only to have brands ‘use’ it to serve its sales and PR agenda; pretty messed up, right?
Pride campaigns do well, as long as they have heart, soul and sentiment that shines through. There’s no doubt that good intentions catch on real quick; and a genuine benefit to the LGBTQ+ community is cherry on the kiki. We happen to know a few things that have worked for brands in this year’s Pride celebration, and it might be a guiding light that serves us all, brands and otherwise, to not give in to the relentless rainbow-wash.
Here are a few things you and your business can do to respectfully be a part of the Pride Month. Follow along, why don’t you…
being tepid doesn't work
In 2023-24s forecast, we see opinions with a chance of character. You are nothing if you refuse to pick a side. Either you are an ally, or you are not. Going half-way, being vanilla and rainbowing your logo or coming up with ‘limited edition’ something leaves a bad taste and makes you look like you lack spine. Own up to being with the community, and most importantly, empathize. Walk the Pride walk, encourage your LGBTQ+ employees to come forward (if they really want to) to celebrate their contribution and unapologetically put your company out there as a brand open to diversity and inclusion in all fluid ways.
Budweiser wasn’t so wise this year and is a perfect example why being vanilla doesn’t work. It was early April when Bud Light sent an influencer, Dylan Mulvaney, a few beers. She, in what seemed like a paid promotion, was dressed like Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s as she cracked open a beer to celebrate her first year as a woman and the upcoming Pride Month.
Seems like today’s normal, yes? No! This made anti-trans people raging mad because a product they loved was being promoted by a transgender. The America-trans war was triggered and we saw people throwing some major shade and acting out their anger all across social media (Kid Rock shot cases of the beer, Travis Tritt said he’s banning the brand from his tour).
In full disclosure, I was on a tour sponsored by Budweiser in the 90’s. That was when Anheuser-Busch was American owned. A great American company that later sold out to the Europeans and became unrecognizable to the American consumer. Such a shame.— Travis Tritt (@Travistritt) April 6, 2023
be an ally - all day every day, year after year
When you show up to a cause, you need to really feel for it. Integrate diversity into your work systems and make sure that it is a conscious effort, because what will start as an effort will transform into an unconscious habit before you know it. Make sure that you are inclusive, right from hiring, through production and right up to the product itself, along with the choice of models you want representing it.
Both Levi’s and MAC have done so much in this area that one could learn a thing or two about true inclusivity and diversity from them.
Levi’s was the pioneer brand to have provided equal domestic partner benefits to same-sex couples all the way back in 1992. They were the only company who filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court to support same-sex marriage. They helped establish the first LGBTQ+ museum and till date donate over $100,000 each month towards Outright Int. (an LGBTQ+ advocacy group). When a company like this participates in Pride Month, their rainbows shine brighter than the rest because their cause is supported with action.
MAC, with its bold slogan of PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS, has come up with its VIVA line of lipsticks that claim that “Every cent of the selling price of VIVA GLAM Lipstick is donated to the M∙A∙C VIVA GLAM Fund. Discounts do not apply.” the proceeds of which have supported many of those impacted by HIV and AIDS and now extends to the LGBTQ+ community. They have been able to raise 500 million dollars to date
While we know that a start-up doesn’t talk in millions of dollars, and you might be thinking if the little that you can do will show for nothing – do it anyway. Start small and true and watch your inclusive and diverse company rise to the occasion of Pride Month and any other cause that you might feel passionately about. The point is to not hold back and let people see the caring side of you throughout your brand journey. When you are consistent, people’s trust only grows in you – and so do your sales. It’s a win-win!
use rainbows, or don’t - but do have an initiative to help
Gone are the days when having a rainbow sign was a unique way to show your inclusion in the Pride month. You can choose to bring light into the world even without the stereotypical signboards and the flag-slapping left right and center. Refuse the rainbow-wash and make Pride your own by coming up with unique ways to show your stand and that you stand.
People are now calling it ‘rainbow capitalism’ and you must not be a part of it if you want to be a part of the woke community where equality and mutual respect is the only way of life (and that’s exactly how it should be).
Nordstorm chose to rainbow-free for its 2023 campaign, opting instead to feature LGBTQ+ brands on its esteemed website (eg. BoySmells and TomBoyX). That’s the sweet spot where celebration meets impact, and that’s where a company should aim to be.
Summing things up, people might forget a campaign but they won’t forget the face of a company that truly stood up for the extension of human rights to everyone alike. It’s not just about being ‘woke’, it’s about being sensible and acting logical. It doesn’t matter whether you believe in something or not, it should never stop you from extending basic respect to someone who thinks, looks, acts ‘differently’ – and if you and your company can truly do that, your campaigns will shine with warmth because they come from a place of truthful understanding.