Pinkwashing: Are Brands Cashing in on LGBTQ+ Pride?


– More and more we’ve seen a rise in support for Pride from
mainstream businesses and this year is definitely no exception. We see brands having
rainbows splashed over their normal advertising
or selling products specifically linked to Pride. Now all of this stuff may seem like an amazing thing that’s happening. Surely it’s a good thing that these brands are being so open in their support. Surely this kind of mainstream acceptance is exactly what we want. Surely it’s a good thing that a teenager could walk off the street
into a High Street shop and buy something that make
them feel known and seen in a way they hadn’t before. Does it really matter about the intentions or the story behind it? Well, perhaps. This idea of brands co-opting Pride to sell products is
reasonably controversial. For some people it’s
difference to see this anything other than a
cynical publicity stunt trying to gain access to Pink Pound, rather that something which is genuinely going to change anything. Personally I don’t necessarily think the answer lies in either extreme. What I think is important is that we ask some questions about the brands and the campaigns that
they’re running instead. Number one, the product. Sometimes this is a literal
product you can buy, and sometimes this is just
the general advertising to do with the brand that
they’ve slapped a rainbow on. And I think we need to
ask some questions around what exactly that campaign is doing. For example is the
campaign explicitly about LGTBQ+ people or is it kind of like more of a general advertising
campaign for the brand that has some very
generic message about like love is good? And for specific products, let’s take clothing as an example. Cus it’s all well and good to say just slap a rainbow on something. But if these particular Pride ranges are just replicating
the issues that we see in the wider fashion industry, is it truly this inclusive, kind of outreach that it’s meant to be? For example, is the
advertising gender neutral? Do the clothes come in
a full range of sizes? Are they inclusive designs
that aren’t limited to the gender and sexual binaries? Were they designed by LGTBQ+ designers? Are they you know affordable
in any way, shape, or form? Gucci, I’m looking at you. The idea being if these companies
truly wanted to celebrate the community they’d engage
with the community enough to know what kinds of things
might be an issue for them when they’re buying clothes normally and you know, not do those things. Basically, does it seem
like it’s just a money grab that’s taking advantage of a community that feels so unseen that one tiny flash of rainbow tie dye makes us scramble for our fanny packs and Dungarees to get out that loose change? So I picked clothing as the first example because I think that’s kind of obvious. It allows people to feel seen. It is something that
people wear every day. But there are other products that are also kind of being jumped
on with this bandwagon. You know rainbow bottle
openers, rainbow toilet roll, do these things really do
anything for the community if they’re not also working
within the community to do some good outside
of the product itself? I think we need to ask questions about whether we think
being mainstream is the goal and if it is whether this
actually achieves it? Or whether it’s just select products at a very certain time of year. So question section
number two, the profits. Namely, where do they go? Does any money go to LGTBQ+ causes, and if so how much? Or is it a very vague like
partnering with situation? In which that information isn’t
actually given out publicly. Also, are those LGTBQ+ designers getting paid fairly for their work? Basically if brands are not
paying any of that money to its LGTBQ+ organisations,
nonprofits, charities, then they’re profiting from a community without giving anything back. And especially because it’s a community that does have a lot of causes that you might need to donate to, you know with what like the
increased risk of homelessness and drug dependency
and bullying in schools and also legal restrictions
all over the world. Question section number
three, the principle. I hope that you appreciate
that I’ve done Ps for all of these, this
was not intentional but, for the good of Pride Month
we’re gonna run with it. Principle. Are companies that are otherwise
homophobic or transphobic for the rest of the year
doing these publicity stunts? Cus I think that it’s,
it feels fairly clear that we can call them publicity stunts. Are companies doing the work
all throughout the year? Having inclusiveness training for staff, having non-transphobic policies in regards to restrooms and changing rooms? Are they using inclusive in
their best models in campaigns? Are they including gay and trans people in any of their campaigns that they’re running for
the rest of the year? The way that these products
are so often linked to Pride and Pride Month in particular means often they aren’t available
for the rest of the year, and I think we do have to ask if it is that this is a sign
that we are so included and so accepted and so mainstream now like why isn’t it actually mainstream for the rest of the year too? Personally I think that like rainbow stuff can make people feel very
seen and very included and bring a lot of joy to people who would just walk in off
the street to somewhere that has a Pride display. And though I can see the argument that there are some which don’t go far enough to explicitly be LGTB and I’m also like oh a straight person could
wander in and see this and be like oh love is good, I believe love is good, that’s for me! But I do think it’s
kind of useful in a way that it allows people who are
still closeted or questioning to wear these products and
internally know what it means but not out themselves externally. So I don’t even have problem
with that necessarily. Personally I think some of
these products are cute as hell, I know a lot of people
who are going to buy them. I think that’s totally fine. But I don’t think it’s mutually
exclusive that we can also question and call out these companies that are doing this thing once a year. I don’t think it’s
indicative of the idea that suddenly it’s all rainbows and sunshine and inclusivity when for
the rest of the year, that isn’t a value that
they’re necessarily upholding. So what do you think
about products in Pride? Love to hear your thoughts
in the comments below. As always if you’d like to help
support me make these videos I’m gonna leave a link to my Patreon in the description along
with all my social media so you can find me all over the internet. And until I see you next time, bye.

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59 thoughts on “Pinkwashing: Are Brands Cashing in on LGBTQ+ Pride?

  1. The worst thing is cis straight people wearing this stuff as "fashion" instead of actually being there for LGBT people. Also things like Vodka shouldn't be advertised in rainbow colours imo, since there is already a problem with alcohol.

  2. I think a huge problem is alcohol companies selling pride/rainbow products, or sponsoring pride (like absolut vodka). There is a history of substance abuse and alcoholism in the LGBT community that still continues today, so this especially feels, at best, utterly ignorant, and at worse, a form of encouraging destructive behaviours in LGBT people (who are already much more likely to have mental illnesses).

  3. Capitalism does not care about us. I cannot stress this enough, as long as they are pursuing capital, we are only another demographic to be marketed to. It's great if some money is going to charities, but ultimately the goal is still to gain capital, which comes with so much hidden damage that comes from behind the scenes. We don't matter to them.

  4. Oft-times, I will see a "header" and write some questions based just on the header/headline. I love your videos because you always answer everything I write down 😀 "A portion of the proceeds will go to…" or "We support…" rather than "WE ARE LGBT". <3 you and your channel <3

  5. This reminds me of Paramount's remake of Heathers, where a queer character, a woman of colour, and a plus-size girl were slapped in without regard for how that would change the dynamic of the story. It feels like companies are trying to cash in on progression without really understanding the feeling behind it, why audiences want greater representation or how the hell to accurately portray marginalised groups. It does feel condescending and like I'm being taken advantage of, especially when the product they deliver is of a shoddy quality and contributes nothing of value to any cause whatsoever.

  6. I have to disagree with the assumption that members of the LGBTQ+ community are the ones being targeted for brand consumption. Oh, no. These companies are after the straights. They're after "ALLIES".

  7. People, if you really have a problem being "exploited" by the companies that "don't care," I would have to say that it's just as much on people who "do care" as it is on anyone. I, for one, have bought a pride scarf from Target. Why? Because it was right there in front of me, and it was affordable. If you wanted me to buy a similar product from someone who "cares" about minorities and/or the underprivileged, it's on them to keep their products practical, accessible, and affordable—even for someone whose resources are as limited as mine. If people still buy from the other guys even with that going on, THEN it's okay to complain about it. Until then (as they say) a bird in the hand is worth two behind the bush.

  8. I noticed this last year when I went to my first pride event (London pride) and yeah I noticed this too along with a lot of other people I met.

  9. I think I might be coming from a different place that most of the viewers here. I live in Poland, which is a very homophobic country (at least compared to the rest of Europe). Many companies that have LGBT+ related products during Pride Month in the West don't have them here, because they cannot profit enough. Also, in Poland we have many companies (especially the Poland-based ones) that support the xenophobic and homophobic campaigns and for example brands of clothing that produce homophobic clothing. So here doing an LGBT+ related campaign is still kind of 'brave', because you have to be prepared for a huge backlash or people even boycotting the brand (to the much more extend that it can happen in the Western Europe).
    For me seeing the Google mapping the Warsaw Pride route on Google Maps or Netlix putting rainbow billboards in Warsaw meant a lot. Even the H&M campaing just displayed in my local Shopping Centre was so weird that my mum had to point it to me that it was ACTUALLY related to LGBT+ and not just random rainbow. So if the profits go to the LGBT+ related organizations and the company tries to include its LGBT+ employees it should be free to release the rainbow campaigns.
    Even yesterday during the volunteer meeting for our own Equality March in my city we were talking whether we should include corporations in our march (of course given that they would sponsor us) and the majority said yes.
    I get that people in more accepting countries can be tired and suspicious of brands doing pride collections, but in my country it still does a big thing for the community (a.k.a 'look, these brand has a rainbow collection and we are homophobic af, how could they… wait. maybe we are viewing all of this wrong, if even GOOGLE supports it).
    Also, I love your channel. This is my first comment but I have been watching your videos for years and I love them! Cheers!

  10. Yes I was in Manhattan and legit most of the stores only had the rainbow flag in there store window and than the ones that had lgbt in the store they had a small section with just rainbows or the word love Like legit their was just a section in Target with only rainbow unicorns like WHAT

  11. Do you feel that it is okay, when I as a straight woman wear rainbow clothes (for example from the h&m pride collection)?

  12. Pride parades are notorious for pinkwashing. March in the parade, slap a rainbow on a piece of glossy cardboard, and hand the adverts along the parade route. Its ingenious really. Imagine all the money they are saving by advertising during Pride rather than spending millions on a traditional ad campaign.

  13. It really pisses me off that Disney, one of the richest and most powerful brands in the world, is only donating 10-freaking-% of the money earned from their Mickey Rainbow line to GSLEN. They make money in the BILLIONS annually from their merchandise, and they’re capping their donation at $50k!!! UGH

  14. Capitalism is awesome…shut the hell up. Your entitlement is showing
    or….you would rather have your pride month in the congo instead?

  15. Couldn't give less of a shite about someone's sexuality. Tis none o my Business, and Meaningless.

  16. Damn, your uniform is perfect. Or is it a costume? Do you put it on for videos only? It's funny and sad at the same time. But more funny.

  17. What IS the point? You are complaining that companies are not supporting the community the way YOU want them to. They are bringing awareness and for most companies, that is a start but that isn't enough for you. Do you really think the world revolves around you? Well the answer is, it doesn't. Try to remember that a business is made to make money. That is the truth of the matter. They will use whatever gimmicks they can use to sell their products. It makes no difference to you though, no matter what anyone does it will never be enough for you and people like you.
    And before you complain, my daughter is bi, my son is married to his partner and I am bi. I fully support our community.

  18. One day you'll look back at the shit content you've pumped out and realise the true meaning of cringe.

  19. So first, I'm bisexual. Second, you can't call something inclusive and follow it up with a list of exclusionary rules.

  20. This is why I generally dislike the LGBT community, despite being part of it. So many of you will just NEVER be happy. This video gave me such a headache!

  21. An example of a bad publicity stunt i saw recently, was when a clothing company made their advertisment campagne say "clothes have no gender" but when you went to their website/online shop, the first thing you had to do was select "man" or "woman" (or "child" but then you had to choos between boy or girls too) to get to clothes and it weren't the same clothes in the different cathegories. Like, they didn't even try to seem creadible.
    (Btw, sorry for the mistakes, it's late and english is only my third language…)

  22. Honestly there is a massive barrier between the publicity stunts and the actual supportive brands. For example anybody can get a pack of sharpies and slap the word pride on a bottle of coke or change the colour exposure on their logo so it looks more like a rainbow and that's the type of brand that's just trying to reap off of this whole thing for cash and treat it like a fad for the rest of the year. On the other hand, there are the brands who actually donate all earned money to charities like the LGBTQ+ foundation but these are very rare. There is most certainly one type that disgusts me though, and that's people who slap something really small onto something they were selling anyway. Two big examples of this being Sainsbury's slapping a tiny rainbow on the back of their paper vouchers and nothing more, and Skittles attempted to exploit the time of year again and tagged the mystery white Skittles as rainbowless with all rainbows going to charity or something. I call it business with bigots.

  23. Good one! We also wrote about the same thing on our blog – we feel that it’s crucial that whenever a company decides to come up with a bunch of rainbow products for Pride, they also need to make sure they a) donate money for LGBTQ+ causes/organisations and b) do something to improve LGBTQ+ rights and inclusion within their own company throughout the year.

  24. 😇👭👬💗💚💘💛💝💜👄💞💓👅💟💕💖💙❤💋👅👄🐩🐶🐕🍼🍼🌸🌸🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈

  25. I don’t even need to watch the video to be able to answer the question.
    Yes. They are.
    Businesses will do whatever it takes to make a profit

  26. my local branch of CoOp Funeralcare cracks out a rainbow wicker casket in pride month. "how do we support the gays???? with the most stark and obvious symbol of DEATH."

  27. I only have 2 articles of pride related clothes, and they come from The Rainbow Project's store Equalitee. I'd be happier if it were fairtrade, but I'd imagine profits are difficult enough to make for a company from such a small place as NI, even online with global marketing. So it's at least better than buying a random rainbow-y shirt with no actual links to LGBT stuff as well as unethical manufacturing.

  28. As an older Irish gay man currently living in the UK myself, I remember a time (and even more so from even older Irish LGBT people even older than myself, from those dark days when being gay was once illegal, both in Ireland and elsewhere) that in the absence of the idea and concept of the pink pound, where everything was hidden and underground and where there was no such thing as gay pride, that in many ways, gay life was so much better, there was far more of a real sense of community and community spirit, as we aspired to be on the journey towards LGBT rights and equality, which on the achievement of same, all of this has all gone to mush – back then, even though we were clearly given to understand that we had no rights nor entitlements to anything, as people generally accepted back then, people were far happier than they are now, where young people today are facing so much more challenges and problems, which rights and equality have created and yet, they do not have the certainty of knowing where they stand, compared to how it was in my day

  29. Some stores display a rainbow sticker in their window, but they've put it upside down (the rainbow flag is recognized by the international flag makers association and red is the first colour). What I am to make of it? Any other flag displayed upside down is problematic, to say the least…

  30. Super late, but I did want to comment. The company I work for added a “live out loud” button that was cute, slightly rainbow, but not overt. This was the first year of their 26 year history where they did something that I know of. When you click it you’re brought to a landing page that doesn’t actually offer any lgbt+ products (because that’s not what our company is) but rather has a picture of a gay couple advertising our wedding services and links to our two spas and some other things. Basically it was their way of saying “these things aren’t just for cis and straight people.” And I think at the beginning of June the idea was to remove it in July but then they didn’t. They added a small blurb something like “we offer these all year round and welcome the lgbt+ community at any time.” At first I was apprehensive because I thought it was a marketing ploy but I actually like seeing it at the bottom of the page whenever I’m on our website (which is fairly often).

  31. Reminds me of the rainbow burger from Burger King where the staff were allowed to say what was in it. Of course it was a “ regular burger” and it got to be issue that since I was vegetarian and my friend has ibs/ diabetes we needed to know what the rainbow burger had but the staff wouldn’t tell us. So in theory it was suppose to be inclusive but wasn’t for us.

  32. It feels like a nessesary stepping stone to me. It's just how bussiness works isn't it? Since we're the customers it's up to us to not play into blatant cash grabs. And i think most of the queer comunity has a good eye for that. And other than that i think at this point in time that it's good to have more visibility in mainstream media at all since that's still FAIRLY new.

  33. TBH I like rainbows, and most people just use rainbows because they're colorful and bright and not because of the LGBT symbolism, but yeah sometimes it does seem off

  34. Just if they give me a card of 'certified gay' and with that I can get doritos and vodka for free as long as they have rainbows on it, i'm fine with it

  35. Living in Brighton for the past 10 years, I've seen a distressing commercialisation of Pride. Apart from businesses on the Pride route only showing public support for LGBT issues on the weeks leading up to Pride itself, the Pride Parade has been 'taken over' by companies who are clearly there just to make money. Brighton is/was (I'm no longer sure) a beacon for the LGBT community in the UK, so why is this show of support only temporary? I will give a shout out to the Police force though, who do use their rainbow pride themed patrol cars throughout the year.

  36. Capitalism does not care about us, but if they're selling our symbols and it's easier for us to buy it and make it ourselves, it's okay to do so. I think it's as important for us to wave our flag as it is for there to be places that sell that flag. And I also think when we can, our money should go to causes that benefit us directly, rather than consumerism with a negligible trickle down effect

  37. Show us don't just talk at us. Adverts are in the public domain as long as you aren't trying to sell something else with it. Fair use covers education and documentation. Give us graphical examples.

  38. I only feel sort of safe being out at pride stuff. But any other time of the year I'm really cagey. When I tell this to cishets they're surprised a lot of the time? So uh, if companies are gonna do this shit they better do it outside of june and july. And put the money they get somewhere useful that actually benefits me so I don't feel like I'm just being used and exploited 🙂

  39. It's the liberal pound they are after from appearing socially progressive rather than the minority gay pound.

  40. Capitalism is fundamentally exploitative and imperialistic but many gay people in the West are privileged enough economically to ignore that.

  41. Cheap marketing strategies. Seeking for profit without doing actually anything for the community.

  42. I made a video essay about this topic last week. It was upsetting how some companies only had gender neutral clothing in their pride collections and not in other collections and times of the year besides June. I also get upset when companies use the pride flag while mistreating queer workers after being discriminated against at work myself and seeing that same company give out rainbow pins during Pride. I like the publicity of the LGBTQ community via these companies, though not when they just take our money without actually supporting us.

  43. I see it as progress.

    Yes every thing has a rainbow but this shows large corporation see us as economic power.

    By having economic power we cannot be erased.
    We can't be ignored
    Its progress. And we should celebrate it.

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