Corporate Pride Promos and Products Evolve to Celebrate and Support Diversity In A Changing World
by Brian Sloan
by Brian Sloan
Over the last 20 years, one of the most visible markers of change for the LGBTQ+ community is corporate involvement in the celebration of Pride. It used to be the exception for a company to place the power of their brand on the line to support diversity, equality and inclusivity, with Budweiser and Absolut the rare exceptions taking the lead back in the 1990s.
Now, corporate Pride is expected rather than the exception, with countless companies creating special Pride-related merchandise along with promotions for the month of June. But after a tumultuous year of change, this practice is evolving rapidly as demands for social justice have infused Pride Month with a new relevance and sense of urgency. There’s even been backlash around corporations that are now viewed as profiting from Pride — a concept known as rainbow capitalism.
While it used to be standard to simply donate a percentage of a company’s Pride-line profits to the cause, after some less-than-gentle prodding from the LGBTQ+ community, that’s no longer considered enough. The new expectation is that companies have to show up with their support during the other 11 months of the year for their advocacy and action to be considered meaningful rather than a quick seasonal grab at performative allyship.
So in 2021, major brands like Abercrombie + Fitch and Apple are making it clear that their support and donations to the LGBTQ+ community are no longer tied directly to sales of their Pride products. Abercrombie has an asterisk on their Pride page stating as much, and Apple is donating a million dollars along with iPads and other products to Encircle, a nonprofit supporting LGBTQ+ students and their families in Utah.
Another notable evolution of corporate Pride is the remarkable change in the imagery and products themselves, which now represent true diversity across the entire spectrum of the LGBTQ+ rainbow. Converse has added colors of the trans and BIPOC communities to their product line. Also, the models wearing the merchandise have become more diverse and representative, as seen on Levi’s website. Additionally, a key theme woven into corporate efforts this year is intersectionality, with a new emphasis on framing Pride through a wider lens of social justice.
While all these changes have added some gravity and seriousness to corporate Pride, most companies making Pride Month a priority still want this to be a celebration. So there’s no dearth of fun merch, amazing designs, colorful “lewks”, and quirky one-of-a-kind items in the wide range of Pride products out there. Below is just a sampling of some of the more unique and interesting ways companies and even celebrities are celebrating Pride this year, including a notable first-time effort from Lego:
Abercrombie + Fitch: Featuring gender-inclusive clothing and a cologne called Fierce, this brand has come a long way from their cisgendered, washboard-abs past. Also, they’ve developed this year’s Pride Collection working directly with The Trevor Project and will be donating 200K to the nonprofit which supports LGBTQ+ youth.
Apple: The style masters at Apple are offering two new watch bands, one with the original six colors of the rainbow and another inclusive update with colors repping the trans (light blue, pink and white) and BIPOC (black and brown) communities. As the rare multinational with an out CEO, they support a range of LGBTQ+ advocacy groups like Gender Spectrum, PFLAG, and GLSEN.
Barefoot Wines: This wine and champagne maker has an eye-popping line of glittery bottles and canned beverages as well as some equally sparkly branded products like fanny packs and tank tops. They are supporting the non-profit Free Mom Hugs, founded by a Christian mom who promotes LGBTQ+ equality through advocacy, direct action and yes, lots of actual hugs too.
Converse: The classic kicks brand kicks off Pride with a line of their signature All-Stars featuring rainbow styling and soles along with designs using the trans pride colors. They also have a cute line of shoes for kids too. Proceeds from their sales go to benefit youth-facing orgs like the Ali Forney Center and the It Gets Better Project.
Disney: The legacy entertainment company offers a full range of Pride merchandise through their website, including their popular Mickey hat with rainbow ears. Historically, this company is known for hiring and encouraging diversity in the workplace and donates year-round to a broad range of organizations worldwide to promote equality everywhere.
Happy Socks: This fun and funky sock brand has a line of striped, heart-filled, and rainbow socks on sale for Pride. But this year they’re forgoing their usual promotional campaign and instead donating 10% of Pride proceeds to InterPride, an organization that promotes networking among various LGBTQ+nonprofits.
Lego: Lego has created a 346-brick construction set called “Everyone is Awesome”, with an inclusive rainbow wall and a lineup of 11 monochromatic figures representing each strand of the multicolor spectrum. Proceeds support Lego’s efforts to build an inclusive workspace with groups like Stonewall, Open for Business, and Workplace Pride.
Levi’s: “All Pronouns, All Love” is the tagline promoting this iconic brand’s range of tops, tees, jean jackets, and jumpsuits with rainbow flourishes. The San Francisco-based company makes an annual donation to OutRight Action International, a group advancing human rights for LGBTQ+ people all over the world.
Mariah: If you love Pride and divas, then you’ll really love this gay icon’s online store with her personally branded line of merchandise, including tees, socks, and rainbow butterflies of course. And don’t miss the $20 Throw Shade fan, which is both a practical and sassy parade-watching accessory.
1-800-Flowers.com: You can send a truly eye-popping, neon-rainbow colored Pride Bouquet to a friend or loved one during the month of June and the online floral retailer will donate 20% of the net proceeds to GLAAD, supporting their mission of LGBTQ diversity and equality in media.
101 Cider House: This LA-based hard cider maker has brewed up a Pride drink called Cactus Rouge with zero sugar to appeal to the low-carb crowd. They’re also donating 10% of the proceeds from this beverage to Equality California, the nation’s largest state-based queer rights organization.
PetSmart: Pet owners can celebrate Pride too with the You Are Loved collection, featuring everything from dog toys and collars to colorful catnip. This national retailer is donating 100K to GLSEN, a nonprofit working to ensure schools value everyone in the LGBTQ+ community.
TomBoyX: This lesbian-owned and operated business sells women’s underwear with an emphasis on comfort and, for Pride, plenty of rainbow-themed items. They also send quarterly financial support to groups like the ACLU, Youth Care, and the LGBTQ Freedome Fund.
Williams-Sonoma: The upscale home goods retailer offers a selection of Pride-themed housewares including mugs, plates, and even baking accessories. This year they’re donating half of their proceeds from these items to The Trevor Project, and you can also make a direct donation to the organization by adding it to your online shopping cart.
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