The pandemic may have cancelled parades and parties for the past two years, but Pride Month is back with a celebration of inclusion, acceptance and love, but not without controversy.
In yet another marketing swing and miss Burger King is the latest brand to come under fire for an advertising campaign based around a celebration or key moment with its new ‘tone-deaf’ campaign surrounding the Pride Whopper.
To be clear nothing about the Whopper sandwich itself has changed except the buns. On the Pride Whopper customers can choose either two top buns or two bottom buns. Burger King Austria rolled out the new campaign that features a rainbow background and two Pride whoppers alongside the slogan ‘Time to be proud’.
The company also posted the new concept to its Instagram account alongside a lengthy caption, which (roughly translated) states the Whopper now represents ‘two equal buns for equal love and equal rights’ and the sandwich is meant to put a ‘smile on our faces’.
However, controversy reigned with many accusing the company of ‘pride-washing’ (a term used to describe a business or a company that displays rainbow colors, or Pride-specific campaigns during Pride month, but doesn’t engage in tangible action, or support towards the LGBTQ+ community) and questioned the company on its true intentions.
Brands working with the LGBTQ community isn’t new. For example, H&M has been a longtime collaborator with LGBTQ actors and activists, and its ‘My chosen family’ initiative will donate $100,000 this year to the UN Free & Equal campaign, a global fight for equality led by United Nations Human Rights. Society expects more from brands then essentially using Pride as a marketing tool and profiting off the community without giving anything back.
Authenticity is clearly key here, and despite the financial hit the industry has taken in the past few years, we’re seeing more and more brands put their money where their mouth is, choosing to donate to worthy causes and implementing meaningful collaborations that are spearheaded by activists and allies.
Here at Festival of Media, we are always striving to look for new ways to be more inclusive and as an awards company one of the best ways we can do this is by providing a platform to celebrate the campaigns that are getting it right. As part of the Inclusive Campaign of the Year category our jury will be looking to award a brand that created an inclusive campaign ensuring individuals from various backgrounds, experiences, capabilities and perspectives were part of the process from ideation to implementation. The campaign does not have to focus on the topic of inclusion but be created and implemented in an inclusive manner and clearly demonstrate the incorporation of gender, age, race, sexual orientation, and disability, to deliver an authentic and effective campaign. Which in turn we hope ensures award winning campaigns that we can all be proud of.