In June 2022, a rainbow-washed logo isn’t going to cut it; in fact, it’s more than likely to ruffle some feathers. But brands that do nothing to commemorate Pride Month risk getting called out as well. That’s because it’s not enough to wait till the start of summer to show you care. Authentic allyship is a year-round commitment — and not just to your customers, but to your employees as well. As Pride Month goes mainstream, check out a top-tier selection of standout campaigns that won’t make you cringe:
Taco Bell: Drag Brunch
Ready for some quesadilla with a side of drag? Thanks to the smash success of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” the skyrocketing popularity of what was recently still an alternative artform has marketing execs thinking outside the box. That’s why this Pride month, Taco Bell is betting on a brunch experience paired with performances that make it truly unforgettable.
Touring Taco Bell Cantina locations around the United States, each of the sold-out shows will be hosted by drag performer Kay Sedia and feature local talent from each participating city. Members of the brand’s Fire Tier rewards program were quick to snap up all 550+ reservations, keen to cash in on an amazing show and goodies like a $5 Bell Breakfast Box, Cinnabon Delights Coffee and mimosas.
“[It’]s not about politics or worrying about backlash. It’s about being authentic.” – Sean Tresvant, Global Chief Brand Officer at Taco Bell
But before critics call out the commercialization of the uniquely LGBTQ+ medium, drag historian Joe E. Jeffreys says the effort has “taken drag over a border that it hasn’t been before, to an exciting new place of accessibility.” And what’s more, the idea for the event first emerged within Live Más Pride, the company’s LGBTQ+ employee resource group.
Founded in 2020 by senior production designer Robert Fisher, the community now has over 100 members. He says, “managers understood that if a Taco Bell-hosted drag brunch was going to feel legitimate, the company had to act as if it had been invited to be part of the L.G.B.T.Q. community, ‘not as if Taco Bell was appropriating drag for the sake of tacos.’”
Since its official launch at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, the group has delivered programming that both pushed the envelope and gave refuge to LGBTQ+ employees, team members and allies looking for a community of their own. The first event LGBTQ+ 101, a virtual “Brunch & Learn,” was hosted by Taco Bell graphic designer Winston Elliott and Brandon Griewank, who answered employee questions and helped define terms like transgender, asexual, intersex and more. – Yum! Brands
studioID takeaway: For Taco Bell, celebrating Pride goes far beyond the month of June — and that’s why this effort feels authentic. Last year, the brand appointed out rapper (and former employee) Lil Nas X as its Chief Impact Officer. Now they’re working together on Ambition Accelerator, a purpose-driven initiative set to empower Black, Latinx, LGBTQ+ and other underrepresented groups.
Meanwhile, the company’s public charity arm Taco Bell Foundation is partnering with the It Gets Better Project on a grant fund dedicated to work readiness resources for LGBTQ+ youth — receiving a call-out at each stop on the Drag Brunch tour.
Additional insight: “Commit to being a part of the movement, not a moment,” says Hunter Johnson, CEO of Xpedition. “Consumers can easily distinguish between brands that are authentic partners in the fight for equality versus ones that are just trying to make a quick buck. Make it clear that your support of the LGBTQ+ community is not limited to one month or done as a means of commercialization.”
Ikea: Home Pride Home
“We have always been for the many people. Which means we want people of all sexual orientations and gender identities to feel at home, not just at IKEA, but everywhere.” – Ikea
In 2021, Ikea made a bold statement with their “Progess is Made” campaign in honor of IDAHOT: International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, observed on May 17. Beyond adopting the Progress Flag, the brand — which has long been an ally of the LGBTQ+ community — is raising the bar for itself and others in more ways than one. And this year, with “Home Pride Home,” that powerful stance continues.
So far this month, the company has donated $50,000 to the Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention organization focused on LGBTQ+ youth. And, with support from Stonewall’s Global Diversity Champions program, they’ve expanded last year’s tips on how to be a better ally to “a series of actions you can take to ensure the place you call home is somewhere LGBTQ+ people feel welcome, included and free to be themselves.”
Even more remarkably, Ikea is using its size and influence to advocate for LGBTQ+ rights at large. “Together with other companies, civil society, our co-workers and customers, we want to be a force for positive change by supporting legislation and investing in education and awareness campaigns that tackle LGBTQ+ stereotypes.” And that’s not just talk; it’s real action.
“IKEA in Serbia has come out in support of pending legislation that recognizes same sex unions,” according to Ingka, the brand’s holding company. And in Hungary, they’ve “signed up for a civil initiative in defense of same-sex parenthood in the country together with many other companies.”
Among their numerous such initiatives, last year they also launched a global Transgender Inclusion Toolkit to help managers create a trans-inclusive workplace and are active partners with Open for Business, “a business coalition for advancing LGBTQ+ inclusion and providing a response to the growing backlash against this in many parts of the world.”
studioID takeaway: Ikea certainly does an incredible job of putting its money where its mouth is, but with various worldwide efforts in-store, at work and at home, it’s also creating a real community around its mission to be part of positive change. And thanks to a knack for genuine human connection, with “Home Pride Home” they’ve built a perfect campaign experience that’s primed for doing good — as well as getting tons of UGC engagement.
Additional insight: “We’ve redesigned the traditional Home Sweet Home sign into a symbol of inclusiveness and acceptance,” the brand explains. And marketers, take note: here’s the carefully crafted CTA: “Find the sticker on Instagram Stories and GIPHY or click below to print it out to hang at home or work with pride. Take a selfie wherever you call home and use our #HomePrideHome sign to mark it as somewhere all LGBTQ+ people can feel welcome.”
Skittles: Give the Rainbow
Back in 2016 and again in 2020, Skittles made waves when the beloved candy company released a limited run of white packaging in honor of the only rainbow that matters during Pride Month. This year, they’re back with something bigger and better in their third annual collaboration with GLAAD. To show active solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community, they’ve partnered with a six queer artists to release a series of custom-branded packs.
Against the grayed out tones fans have come to expect this month, each artist has shared how they see the rainbow in a celebration of their unique visions. A colorful microsite accompanies the initiative, featuring all kinds of fun, interactive content and videos where fans can learn even more with open, honest discussions about identity, creativity and the LGBTQ+ community. And, as in previous years, for the first 100,000 Skittles Pride Packs purchased, $1 will be donated to GLAAD’s mission and efforts.
In these ways and more, “the Skittles brand is committed to advocating for the LGBTQ+ community both within our own organization and throughout the world,” says Senior Director Justin Hollyn-Taub. “While Pride Month is a time to reflect, self-educate and celebrate, we know that long-term sustained support and allyship is key in building a more inclusive and diverse society.”
studioID takeaway: Despite the occasional clapback to marketing decisions, it’s plain to see that Skittles company leadership is committed to their support of LGBTQ+ communities. With every year that passes, they learn, grow and try to new things — which is why GLAAD continues to partner with them. The non-profit says “Amplifying LGBTQ+ art and artists helps further GLAAD’s mission to accelerate acceptance…We hope the artists’ stories that SKITTLES shares inspire our community and our allies.”
Additional insight: “Indiscriminate use of the rainbow – the most potent symbol of Pride and the ‘community’s collective intellectual property’ – without a solid accompanying campaign presents a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of the month in giving back to (not squeezing) the LGBTQ+ community,” according to Tag Warner, CEO of GAY TIMES. Skittles’ efforts have been so successful, that all their “marketing is now rooted in LGBTQ+ support; everything else falls off that. What started as a Pride activation is now a year-round manifesto.”