In this pride month, several brands have released collections and products dedicated to LGBTQ+. While, for some, their status as partners and supporters of the community is recognized, for others, it may be a question of capitalizing more. This notion has given rise to the term “rainbow-wash”, symbolizing the rainbow flag. LGBT movement. Another related term is “pink-washing”, coined by Breast Cancer Action to condemn brand campaigns that use breast cancer for their own benefit, which then incorporate any political or marketing communication techniques. which is designed to change the image of a brand in a progressive direction. The term was later taken for the LGBT cause and is now associated with it.
This year, some actions sparked controversy, such as Elon Musk’s tweet about Tesla’s high-scoring record on corporate equality, when the billionaire previously mocked the use of inclusive pronouns. Earlier in May, Elon Musk scoffed at the arrival of the rainbow logo on Twitter, before boasting about his company’s inclusivity a few days later, which only fueled the Internet.
Similarly, FIFA adopted a rainbow logo and posted a message on Twitter inviting the LGBTQIA+ community to “explore how FIFA is working to ensure the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 unity and There will be a celebration of diversity,” even though Qatar is one of them. The world’s most oppressive country for gay people.
Pride Month is a celebration for the LGBTQIA+ community during June. Today is still a day of celebration in the house of FIFA.
Find out more, as well as how FIFA is working to ensure the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 will be a celebration of unity and diversity.#pride2022
— FIFA.com (@FIFAcom) 1 June 2022
Sometimes it is difficult to know if brands are true allies of the community, or if they are acting out of pure selfishness. Take, for example, the famous IKEA shopping bag or Nike sneakers. Sometimes shoppers don’t know whether brands are donating their profits or simply cashing in on the LGBT community. Also, donating to the community once a year is not enough, especially when some brands continue to fund anti-LGBTQIA+ movements or political parties.
Beyond fashion, the food world is also getting involved in LGBT-themed products like Burger King’s famous Whopper, which has been a topic of debate lately. In Austria, the Whopper is dubbed the “Pride Whopper” for Pride Month, changing its appearance to feature two identical buns to promote love and equality. Viewing Burger King as opportunistic, a marketing move that was not necessarily appreciated by the community.
And while some brands may only make tie-in products during Pride Month, they remain valuable and longtime supporters in a broad sense. This is the case of Levi, Puma and Burberry, which were early adopters of standards of conduct to avoid LGBTI discrimination in the workplace. This is also the case of designer Alexandre Matias and his AMI label, which, in partnership with Tom Daly, has unveiled a rainbow sweater, whereby all profits will be donated to the Kaleidoscope Trust, an LGBT+ non-profit.
“Rainbow-washing” remains a marketing technique used by brands to sell more products by improving their image and making them appear more inclusive, but it continues to give visibility to the LGBT+ movement. More than just Rainbow, it helps to reach a wider audience and aims to open the minds of people and sometimes young people to find the cause. So is it an asset to the community, giving it visibility, or a counterproductive marketing ploy that benefits brands that aren’t really committed to the cause?
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