Pride Month gives us 30 days worth of chances to celebrate and show support for people who are LGBTQIA+, a community whose voices have so often been, and unfortunately still are, silenced. Pride Month also usually coincides with companies releasing campaigns that walk the line between celebrating a good cause and capitalizing on it. One such company that has recently been called into question for doing so is Hellmann’s, known for their mayonnaise, who shared a mayo and rainbow sprinkle sandwich recipe on Twitter. (Bustle has reached out to Hellman's for comment, and will update upon response.)
As a Pride-specific post for their #Strangewich advertising campaign, Hellmann’s tweeted a GIF showing how to build what they dubbed a Celebration Strangewich. The creation is a grilled cheese with a layer of mayonnaise and topped with some rainbow sprinkles. Calling it a sandwich is arguably giving it too much credit.
The now-deleted tweet also was accompanied with the caption, “Perfect grilled cheese for the #PrideParade? The Celebration #Strangewich.” The tweet then listed the ingredients as bread, mayo, sprinkles and “YAAS!” However, thanks to a screenshot from BuzzFeed’s Chris Geidner, the tweet still lives on for all to see. While the tweet is deleted, a recipe for the Celebration Strangewich is still live on Hellman’s Pinterest page as well as their official website. However, neither of those posts specifically mention Pride Month.
Hellmann’s is certainly not alone in being a brand that has misstepped during Pride Month. This year, Equinox gym’s Pride video was called out for leaving people who were asexual out of their Pride alphabet while include allies and advocates. The special edition all-white bag of Skittles also received criticism as some read the campaign as racist. (Having the words “white” and “pride” that close to each other should arguably be cause for concern in most marketing campaigns.)
It's both an incredibly poor idea, for the audience, and a perfect metaphor, by some critical readings of what Pride has become.— Chris Geidner (@chrisgeidner) June 20, 2017
There is a lot of good that comes with the growing support of the LGBTQIA+ community. It helps inform and enforce necessary policy change and continues making our culture and country more safe for and accepting of everyone. However, corporatization is often inevitable for ideas, causes, and even communities that are seen as “cool” or at least “growing in popularity.”
While it’s encouraging to some degree that companies aren’t completely shying away from supporting the LGBTQIA+ community, it complicates the conversation on representation and cultural acceptance. Yes, representation matters but good, accurate, realistic representation should be the goal. If there’s anything the backlash against Pride posts like the one from Hellmann’s can teach us, it’s that people can sniff out pandering. There are some brands who have done Pride Month right or at least better, but being truly inclusive of LGBTQIA+ isn’t as simple as slapping a rainbow on a product and calling it good. Audiences expect better, and everyone, companies included, should be striving to do so.