In this Pride month, many brands have released collections and products dedicated to the LGBTQ+ cause. If their quality of partner and support for the cause is recognized for some, it can be a simple win for others. An attitude that gave rise to the term “rainbow wash”, in connection with the rainbow flag, symbol of the LGBTQ+ movement.
Close to the most common “wash green”used by companies that give themselves a misleading ecological image, “rainbow wash” uses the same principle.
the “rainbow wash” is described in the Urban Dictionary as being: “the use of rainbow colors and graphics on advertisements, logos, clothing, or other products to indicate progressive support for LGBTQ equality with minimal effort”† It is also possible to hear the term “pink wax”, which was conceived by Breast Cancer Action to denounce brand campaigns that use breast cancer for their own benefit and which was later used to encompass any political or marketing communication technique to change its image in a progressive direction. The term was eventually picked up for the LGBTQ+ cause and is now associated with it.
This year, some actions have been controversial, such as Elon Musk’s tweet about Tesla’s record during his equality campaign when the billionaire had previously mocked the use of inclusive pronouns. Earlier in May, Elon Musk mocked the advent of rainbow logos on Twitter. Bragging about his company’s inclusiveness days later only ignited the web.
This was also the case with FIFA, which sported a rainbow logo and posted a message on Twitter inviting the LGBTQIA+ community to discover “how FIFA is working to make the 2022 World Cup in Qatar a celebration of unity and diversity” while Qatar is one of the most repressive countries in the world for gays.
One donation a year is not enough
It is sometimes difficult to know whether brands are true allies of the community or act out of sheer interest. This is especially the case for the well-known IKEA shopping bag or Nike sneakers. Sometimes buyers don’t know whether brands are donating their profits to charity or enriching themselves on the back of the LGBTQ+ community. Donating to the community once a year isn’t enough, especially when some brands continue to fund anti-LGBTQ+ movements or political parties.
It’s not just fashion, but the food world that is making its way into LGBTQ+ products, such as with the famous Burger King whopper that has sparked debate. In Austria, the champ was christened “Pride Whopper” on the occasion of Pride Month. He changed his presentation by showing two identical loaves of bread to promote love and equality. A marketing stunt that was not appreciated by the community, which Burger King judged as opportunistic.
And if some brands only make products in this month of pride, they remain quality and long-lasting supporters. This is the case with Levi’s, Puma or Burberry, one of the first brands to adopt standards of conduct to prevent LGBTQ+ discrimination in the workplace. This is also the case for the designer AMI who, in collaboration with Tom Daley, is presenting a rainbow jersey, the entire profit of which will be donated to the LGBTQ+ association Kaleidoscope Trust.
the “rainbow wash” remains a marketing technique used by brands to sell more products by improving their image by making them more inclusive, but continues to make the LGBTQ+ movement visible. This is more than simple rainbows, it allows to reach a wider audience and aims to open people’s minds and sometimes introduce the matter to the youngest. A community asset by giving it visibility or a simple counterproductive marketing aspect that benefits brands that aren’t quite committed?
(ETX Daily Up)