ITNTW: Profiting Off Pride
June 1st marked the start of Pride Month: a heavily celebrated series of events that once commemorated the efforts of LGBTQIA+ protestors to normalise homosexuality, but has eventuated into a branded festivity fuelled by corporations capitalising on queer pride.
The commercialisation of queer culture has become a controversial topic within the LGBTQIA+ community. Some folks view the efforts by corporations as a sign of mainstream acceptance, whilst others view the branded efforts as a low-effort indication of allyship that does not translate into real-world change.
There is always a fine line when it comes to corporations and organisations wanting to celebrate queer culture versus flaunting an updated logo with a rainbow flag in attempts to indicate a sliver of allyship.
Brand mishaps have already occurred this Pride Month, and we are barely one week into the festivities. Target released a range of Pride themed merchandise in the lead up to June, but were quick to remove the apparel off the shelves following threats from individuals who opposed the items.
The removal not only abandoned LGBTQIA+ employees, but demonstrated the core values of the business don’t authentically align with celebrating and accepting queer culture, but instead favour profiting off of rainbow merchandise.
Another example of a universal corporation slipping up was Xbox and their outstanding representation of pride on Facebook that lasted a total of three days. The rainbow branded Xbox logo was visible on the brand’s Facebook page for three days, before swiftly being changed to a logo that promoted apparently a much more important cause: the release of Diablo 4.
Some brands do get it right, thankfully. PayPal are focusing on small, but meaningful acts of visible allyship this Pride Month, including resource guides for employees regarding pronoun normalisation, and a push for all leaders within the company to add their pronouns to their business profiles, signatures, etc.
They have also curated a mentorship program that pairs Pride members with senior executives to share stories of personal struggle, acceptance, and allyship. PayPal CEO Dan Schulamn also flagged his intention to chat to the president of the Human Rights Campaign to focus on how PayPal can get involved in aiding key issues faced by members of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Every year, brands indicating allyship for social and cultural issues raises concerns of authenticity and questions of core values. Is it better for corporations to remain strictly professional, and not comment on social matters as to avoid public criticism? Do these brands simply jump on the bandwagon of such issues to create revenue? The lines are becoming blurred as the years go by.
In my professional opinion, Pride Month should not be subjected to commercialisation and capitalisation unless it is genuine, considering the amount of historic efforts that have transformed society towards acceptance and celebration of the queer community. Finer lines need to be established to ensure corporations are promoting acceptance and celebration, rather than commercialisation and capitalisation.
By Clare Fitzgerald – PR & Influencer Assistant at InsideOut PR and #AsSeenOn