- Skittles is embedding its limited-edition Pride Month packaging with QR codes that access content from LGBTQ+ storytellers when scanned, according to a press release.
- The packaging play links shoppers to a free collection of stories on Audible that was curated by the audio streaming platform’s editorial, marketing and content divisions in collaboration with GLAAD. Categories span Queer Fiction, Real People, Real Voices and Audible Theater Originals.
- Skittles is also working with comedian Cameron Esposito’s Queery podcast on a series of episodes that profile the five artists that helped design its Pride Packs, which are available through mid-July. The marketer is encouraging fans to share their own stories via a website for a chance to be featured on the program.
Skittles for several years has made a show of abandoning its vibrant rainbow imagery to cede more space to the LGBTQ+ community in honor of Pride Month. While past Pride efforts have raised some eyebrows with a focus on drab, colorless candy packs, the Mars marketer has built out the concept to include more LGBTQ+ creatives and historical perspectives. For this year’s Pride, Skittles is partnering with Audible and Queery to further amplify those types of voices and provide consumers with an easy way to access LGBTQ+ content via QR codes.
The limited-edition packaging was announced in early May and designed with the help of artists Zipeng Zhu, Symone Salib, Mady G, Bianca Xunise and Shanée Benjamin. The artists will offer more detail on their individual journeys and work through a special run of episodes with Esposito’s Queery program, as will select consumers who post their stories to Skittles’ website.
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At the same time, Skittles is working with Audible, a leading provider of audiobooks and podcasts, on showcasing LGBTQ+ literature through July 31. Along with the Skittles Pride Collection, a June “5 Listens” lineup on the Amazon-owned platform was curated with the help of the brand’s five artist partners. Titles include both Audible Originals and classics from the LGBTQ+ canon, such as “Giovanni’s Room” by James Baldwin.
For Audible, the collaboration could be a chance to drive sign-ups while promoting both classics and originals in its library, including “Sorry Charlie Miller” and “The Inheritance.”
Skittles’ Pride marketing is tied to a long-running relationship with GLAAD, which helped assess this year’s content selection. For each Pride Pack sold, the candy brand will donate $1 up to a $100,000 total toward the organization.
Companies deploying Pride-themed ads and products has become commonplace but also stirred controversy. On the one hand, some consumers view corporate gestures of LGBTQ+ allyship as superficial, with many displays of support limited to June in a trend known as “rainbow-washing” (Skittles’ GLADD partnership is year-round). On the other hand, brands acknowledging the LGBTQ+ community have come under more intense fire from conservatives who view such moves as a concession to “wokeness.”
The level of vitriol has seemed to intensify in 2023, with weekslong outrage cycles directed at companies that work with LGBTQ+ partners. Target last week said it would remove some of its Pride Month displays amid an uptick in threats against store employees. The decision drew blowback from progressive advocates.
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