June 16, 2023

Pride Month is an annual celebration of the LGTBQ+community, and an opportunity for brands to show their support. However, as the significance of Pride continues to grow, so does the scrutiny of brands' efforts to engage with the community. Recently, some brands have stumbled in their attempts to authentically connect with the LGBTQ+ audience during this month.

The Hall of Shame

Target released their Pride collection that consisted of “tuck-friendly” swimsuits and products by a designer who is known for “occult-and satanic-themed LGBTQ+ clothing and accessories”. Target quickly received backlash forcing them to either take down their collection or move it to the back of the store.

Kohl’s also released a Pride collection. They targeted infants with Pride-themed onesies. Kohl’s stock dropped by 5% the next couple days with #boycottkohl’s trending on Twitter. Kohl’s didn’t take down their collection like Target. However, they also didn’t speak out to confirm their support in the LGBTQ+ community.

The Dodgers have an annual Pride Night at their stadium. This season they planned to give a Community Hero Award to the LA Chapter of The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Conservatives and Catholics were furious with this decision due to The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence’s using humor and religious imagery to support their values. Due to this backlash, the Dodgers uninvited The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, which created a huge backlash from the LGBTQ+ community. This resulted in the Dodgers reinviting The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and coming out with an apology.

Lessons From These Mistakes

1. Educate yourself on who you partner with. It’s very important to research a partner’s values, what kind of products they make, and how they act on social media. If you don’t do this research beforehand, a consumer will, and it won’t be good for your brand.

2. Be careful with products that target children. Targeting children in general has become a very fragile topic in our society, especially when it comes to gender and sexual identity.

3. Brands should celebrate Pride year-long, and not just for a month. Brands shouldn’t take down their collection due to backlash, apologize, or backtrack when it comes to their support of the LGBTQ+ community.

Hopefully when Pride month returns in June next year, brands will learn from their mistakes and be more prideful in their support.

Cate Bender, the author, is Project Coordinator of Marketing Keys

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June 16, 2023