Brands have seized on every cultural, gender and communal celebration that exists as an advertising opportunity.
From Black History Month to Women’s Day to this month’s Pride events, the commercialization of each has not gone unnoticed in recent years.
Consumers are likely to see rainbow-themed merchandise just about everywhere. Everything from cannabis vaporizers to clothing companies to fertility brands and more are marketing Pride.
That's particularly true this June. The 2019 month-long LGBTQ+ Pride celebrations mark 50 years since the Stonewall riots in New York City. And for many advocates and members of the community, the celebration has become too commercial.
'No Correlation Whatsoever'
Jonathan Mendoza, content marketing specialist for the tech consultancy firm Fueled, said Pride has strayed from its beginnings.
“[Pride] began as a movement or protest to fight for LGBTQ+ rights, but it is now more of an opportunity for businesses and individuals to celebrate without realizing that there is still a long way to go in terms of rights,” he said.
The purpose is lost when Pride is used as a vehicle for partying and profit, Mendoza said.
Ajsa Zdravkovic is a member of the LGBTQ community as well.
When Zdrakovic saw advertising by the likes of HSBC Holdings plc HSBC at her first Pride event, she said it left "a bitter taste" in her mouth.
The self-employed graphic designer likens the decision by the bank to use Pride in its campaign to some of her own work.
"As a graphic designer working in advertising for a part of my life, I couldn't help but remember all the times I was asked to put a logo on something that had absolutely no correlation whatsoever."
Inclusion As A Message
While the sentiment of these individuals and many others could adversely impact business, the answer to why brands have opted into Pride campaigns might lie in marketing data.
Consumer insights group FocusVision released data on brands, media and the LGBTQ community in June 2018. The group found that 40% of people polled reported increased favorability for a brand after that has run an inclusive ad. Meanwhile, 19% felt negative after seeing such an ad.
While not specific to Pride, inclusion as a message can be influential in more ways than one when executed with genuine effort.
Brands can make financial gains while supporting equality and LGBTQ inclusion at the same time
Lili Hornyai is the social media manager and content creator for Net1on1 Wholesale, an adult products wholesaler in the U.K.
The company sells Pride-themed products to capitalize on the month, but also aims to support the community year-round through social engagement and sponsored events, she said.
“While Pride Month and Pride parades provide an opportunity to celebrate how far we've come already, it is also a time to remind mainstream society, and especially straight allies, how far we still have to go.”
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