SKITTLES ROULETTE & RAINBOW MAPS: THE BEST OF PRIDE

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This weekend saw the 45th anniversary of Pride in London and one million people hit the streets of the capital in support of the UK’s biggest LGBTQ parade. The event marked 50 years since the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK and Wales, giving 26,000 marchers a double cause for celebration.

With friends and family who have been affected both positively by the celebration of LGBTQ and negatively by lingering outdated attitudes and policies, this is something very close to home. I always love seeing how brands respond creatively to Pride month – whether they go all out and create a Pride-themed product, update their branding or simply share the #HappyPride hashtag.

One brand in particular stood out by not standing out: Skittles completely stripped all colours from its packaging and sweets in honour of the LGBTQ community. Skittles, known for their rainbow coloured sweets and ‘Taste the Rainbow’ tagline, said: “only one rainbow matters this Pride”. I love how they shook things up in a respectful and humble way (check out #OneRainbow).

The campaign received mostly praise, except one…

Year after year, campaigns receive backlash from keyboard warriors who slate any brand that shows support for Pride, calling it a disingenuous marketing ploy. Don’t get me wrong, brands shouldn’t just jump on the bandwagon, but in this case – why not raise awareness if you have the tools to do so?

The parade always plays a huge political role in the UK, but this year it feels even more vital, especially in light of the recent election. The DUP governs a country where many attitudes towards homosexuality and same sex marriage are still homophobic. I was disturbed to read that these kind of attitudes and policies exist so close to home and reminds us that equality has not yet been achieved and that more work has to be done. This year, Pride feels like a collective finger up to the current political climate and proves that even if some political parties still have some way to go, the rest of us don’t.

But is it enough to add a few colours to your logo during Pride month? Brands need to practise what they preach. One company who weren’t afraid to do just that were Campbell’s. Remember when they used two Dads in their advert? The entire country shot down Jess Hicks at once when she accused them of promoting gay sex and claiming that they will no longer have a company if they continued. Great – but when will people stop branding these as ‘gay themed ads’ and start accepting them as ‘ads’?

Over 45% of millennium consumers said they are more likely to do repeat business with an LGBTQ-friendly company (Google Consumer Survey). With this knowledge, I hope that brands do not appear to be supportive for the sake of ticking a box and achieving higher profits. If brands do benefit from higher profits, as long as their support is genuine, then I think I’m okay with it.

A few other examples I like:

STA Travel created a rainbow map with a ‘best Pride parades in the world’ route mapped out

Google Maps showed their support with a rainbow route of the parade to help crowds during the day