We Need To Talk About The Brands Cashing In On Pride

produced by Julie Borowsky; modeled by Nicolas Bloise; photographed by Stephanie Gonot; produced by Yuki Mizuma.
This weekend brings the Pride in London parade on Saturday and UK Black Pride on Sunday. It's a time for the LGBTQ+ community to celebrate acceptance battles already won and continue fighting for equality.
And that fight is definitely far from over. The number of transphobic hate crimes recorded by police has increased 81 percent year-on-year. Just this week, it's been revealed that LGBTQ+ workers in the UK earn an average of £6,703 less than their colleagues.
At the same time, Pride has also become –for better or worse – bigger business than ever before. New research by marketing experts Reboot Online has revealed that 29 percent of companies running a Pride campaign in 2019 have never done one in the past.
However, the research also found that only 64 percent of companies running a Pride campaign are donating to an LGBTQ+ charity – a shocking case of brands failing to put their money where their supposedly "woke" mouth is.
Olly Alexander of pop group Years and Years recently called out brands who do "the bare minimum" with their Pride tie-ins, sharing a screen-grab of an email his manager had received asking him to promote what was billed as an "amazing Pride collection".
"My manager has been getting requests like this every day, I’m guessing it was emailed out to a bunch of people, no details on what this amazing pride collection is or what this big famous brand with lots of money plan to do with any 'proceeds'," Alexander wrote. "I just…. the bare minimum approach here makes me laugh."
The research by Reboot Online reveals that, like Alexander, the LGBTQ+ community has mixed feelings about the way brands have embraced Pride. While 84 percent of LGBTQ+ folks said they felt positive about brands using Pride month to create an LGBTQ+ campaign, an even greater number – 89 percent – said they think at least some brands use these campaigns to sell products rather than help the queer cause.
And a massive 96 percent said brands should be more supportive of Pride all-year-round – not just during summer Pride season.
In truth, it's hard to escape the feeling that even the most cynical Pride tie-ins can be beneficial. Whether you find M&S's much-discussed "LGBT sandwich" cute or cringe, it's providing a form of pro-LGBTQ+ visibility that would have been unthinkable a decade or ago. And M&S has at least made clear that it has donated money to LGBTQ+ charities in the UK and Ireland as part of its attention-grabbing campaign.
But at the same time, it's surely time to raise the bar and create a new "bare minimum" for companies who want a slice of the Pride pie. All companies running a Pride campaign need to be making a donation to an LGBTQ+ charity and be completely open about how much and to whom they've given. Cashing in on Pride is inevitable and not necessarily a bad thing, but too many brands aren't doing it as responsibly and transparently as they should.

More from Global News

R29 Original Series