Happy Pride, From Your Neighborhood Corporation | Voice of America
June is Pride Month, and American consumers have seen an uptick in corporations adopting inclusive rainbow branding.
Notably, a few brands that generally cater to children have endorsed inclusive messages.
This month Lego, the building block company formally for children but popular among all ages, released an “Everyone Is Awesome” Lego set in rainbow colors.
“I wanted to create a model that symbolizes inclusivity and celebrates everyone, no matter how they identify or who they love,” the set’s designer, Matthew Ashton, said in a statement when the launch was announced.
Teaming up with GLAAD, a nonprofit organization promoting acceptance and positive portrayal of LGBTQ people, food manufacturer Kellogg’s unveiled a heart-shaped take on its Froot Loops breakfast cereal, already a rainbow product.
People from all points along the ideological spectrum have taken to social media to express their opinions on large brands and corporations embracing social justice causes, marketing experts say, and if companies decide to participate, it’s likely because they’re confident it will be profitable.
“Companies are rethinking who’s at the table,” Angeli Gianchandani, professor of brand marketing at the University of New Haven, told VOA.
“They’re looking at the data, and they’re understanding who their consumer is,” she said.
Gianchandani also pointed out that the shift in marketing may also be in part because of increased diversity within companies, with employees feeling more comfortable pitching ideas tied to social justice.
“A lot of these companies have a more diverse set of employees, so that’s helping them find new ways to create products and think about who their customer is,” she said.
For example, Ashton, the designer of the “Everyone Is Awesome” Lego set and vice president of design at the company, has spoken openly about his struggles growing up as a member of the LGBTQ community in the 1980s.
Many adults have tweeted their support for the product.
“48yo me would like to thank @matthew__ashton for a set that 20yo me (just out of the closet) would never have imagined would one day exist,” one fan wrote to the designer on Twitter.
I can’t think of a better set to assemble on my birthday. 48yo me would like to thank @matthew__ashton for a set that 20yo me (just out of the closet) would never have imagined would one day exist. Love you mister. #Pride
— Shannon 🐧🐻🐙🦊🐱🐸🐬🦄🐦🐻❄️🐷 (@himbobrite) June 4, 2021
While some companies such as Kellogg’s have demonstrated support for pro-LGBTQ organizations, some critics have pointed out that many corporations using rainbow graphics have not indicated they actually support gay rights.
U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal has tweeted at multiple corporations who have adopted rainbow versions of their logos but have donated to the political campaigns of Republicans who have blocked legislation banning discrimination based on sexual orientation.
“Woah, CUTE Pride logo 🏳️🌈! What’s not cute is giving more than $150,000 to Mitch McConnell and other GOP Senators who are actively blocking the Equality Act from becoming law,” Jayapal tweeted, along with a photo of superstore Walmart’s new rainbow logo.
Woah, CUTE Pride logo 🏳️🌈!
What’s not cute is giving more than $150,000 to Mitch McConnell and other GOP Senators who are actively blocking the Equality Act from becoming law. pic.twitter.com/dev9T6KYw5
— Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@RepJayapal) June 10, 2021
While Jayapal and others on the left are skeptical about some corporations’ embrace of social justice, evangelical Christian groups have denounced the popularization of Pride month.
Still, marketing experts believe that regardless of the discourse from the far sides of the spectrum, the customer base for many of these companies will stay the same, if not increase.
According to Lisa Monahan, assistant professor of marketing at Meredith College, brands such as Kellogg’s and Lego have “significant data on their consumers and how such a move might affect their bottom line.”
Monahan says there is “significant evidence” suggesting not only that those loyal to a brand will overlook its political views in the long term, but also that some who aren’t currently loyal to a brand may be moved to patronize it.
“Ultimately, showing support for social causes that may be polarizing can have upside despite the risk of alienating consumers whose values are in opposition to the brand’s voice,” Monahan told VOA via email.