What does gay pride have to do with the Wizard of Oz?
The phrase “are you a friend of Dorothy?” dates back to World War 2, when homosexual acts were still very illegal in the United States. It was a creative and safe way to find other homosexuals in secret. Why Dorothy though?
In the film, Dorothy escapes her sepia-tinted hometown where no one seemed to pay attention to her and ends up in a beautiful and colourful world full of adventure. She embarks on a journey to return home, only to be told all she ever needed was inside of her all along.
The film has become an allegory for homosexuals and the process of coming out. You know something about yourself and in accepting who you truly are, a whole new world opens up right before you.
Judy Garland, the actor who played Dorothy in the classic film died June 22nd, 1969. A memorial was organized to take place in the biggest gay bar in Manhattan, the Stonewall Inn, but it was raided by police almost immediately. In the 60’s, it was still illegal to be homosexual in the US, and raids were a routine happening in the gay community… but June 28th, 1969 marks the day the LGBT community had finally had enough.
The police who raided The Stonewall Inn that night had no idea the implications of such, as the incident sparked the gay civil rights movement and annual pride celebrations around the country.
It wasn’t until 30 years later that the US government officially declared June as Pride Month. Corporations, however, realized a little earlier that they had to start paying attention to the LGBT community. And so became the corporate friends of Dorothy: Influential businesses openly supporting and advocating for homosexual rights.
In 1994, Ikea released a controversial commercial with two men featured as a homosexual couple, airing after 10pm in New York,Washington D.C. and Philadelphia. The commercial being the first of its kind received negative feedback and major backlash. There were New York op-eds written about the subject and even bomb threats. Ikea stood behind the commercial as it was a true representation of their values, which is they’re always accepting of everyone. Other ads from the same campaign featured a divorced mom and adopting parents.
Brands have come a long way since then, and now many corporations can be seen sporting the rainbow of colours that represent the acceptance and reality of diversity. Take a look at some brand initiatives on behalf of the LGBT community:
In 2012, Oreo gave their iconic cookie a Pride-inspired makeover on Facebook, making them one of the first brands on social media to publicly support LGBT pride in June. The original post was still getting comments almost 3 years after it was posted.
Heineken launched “Like for love” campaign on Instagram. They were one of the first brands to use the heart icon that appears when you like a photo as part of their campaign.
During last year’s Pride parade in Washington D.C., as part of the Marriott’s love travels campaign, they partnered with TV personality Ross Matthews and decorated their parade float to officiate the first ever same-sex marriage on a float.
Shortly after, the US Supreme Court rules that the ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, and to celebrate, hundreds of brands took to social media:
Although pride is a widely celebrated and well known festival, there are still many people who don’t quite understand why pride parades exist. So Target made an ad that encompasses the importance of pride and why it exists.
As a corporate supporter of LGBT rights and the pride movement, the obvious question, which I’m sure has crossed your marketing-savvy brain is: how smart is this move for corporations?
While businesses make their marketing decisions based on dollars and cents, marketing to this particular demographic can be trickier than marketing to other niche groups, like cat lovers or motorcycle enthusiasts.
— US News Article, How Corporations are Profiting from Gay Pride
You have to wonder if these corporations truly support the cause or if they just have dollar signs in their eyes. Could supporting the LGBT community, which has become a political topic, alienate those who disagree? Regardless, the paradigm is shifting and times have changed. Companies who have chosen to get on board and support equal rights for the LGBT community are paving the way for other corporations and their marketing efforts and influencing the world to move towards a more accepting and diverse way of living amongst one another. When we look back on these brands and their courageous actions, they will reflect well in history.
Although marketing to this target demographic can prove to be challenging, to us, it is well worth the risk. adHOME supports LGBT rights to the fullest, and believe that these companies will reap more than just profit by doing the right thing.