Pride PR for Skittles

03 July 2017 | Pic PR

Pic PR intern, Rose, takes a look at Skittles' bid to highlight LGBT Pride month...

The start of July marks the end of LGBT Pride month, which has occurred every June since 2000.

Arguably, Pride celebrations become bigger and better every year, with various brands clamouring to show their support for the LGBT community.

On the 23rd of June, the beloved kids’ TV show Sesame Street posted a thoughtful image to mark gay pride celebrations on its Twitter account. Featuring some of the most iconic characters standing side-by-side in a colourful recreation of the gay Pride rainbow flag, the picture was captioned: “Sesame Street is proud to support families of all shapes, sizes and colours.”

Arguably, however, Skittles was the brand that truly grabbed headlines when it came to LGBT Pride month.

In a somewhat controversial move, bags of the chewy sweets were released in monochrome packaging in honour of the LGBT community. Skittles explained the change in the following statement: “During Pride, only one rainbow matters. So, we’ve given up ours to show our support.”

Over June, every 2p per pack of Skittles sold was donated to Tesco’s LGBT charity initiatives.

While this celebration of LGBT Pride has certainly generated some fantastic PR for Skittles, some critics argued that the black and white packaging appears to erase racial diversity within the LGBT community. There is always going to be a certain element of risk involved when associating whiteness with pride, but the reception for Skittles’ celebration of LGBT pride has received a positive reception overall.

However, it is undeniable that this marketing ploy reflects the wider commercialisation of serious movements and concerns. Corporations have come to recognise the significant market for capital that surrounds the growing acceptance of different lifestyles, beliefs and cultures among young people.

High-street fashion retailers are a pertinent example of this. For instance, Topshop has released several ranges of immensely successful t-shirts and tops centred around feminism and ‘girl power’, despite paying the women who make their clothing a mere pittance. The rose-tinted vision of racial conflict that Pepsi presented in their infamous April advert is also indicative of this.

While these companies do raise awareness for the movements that they publically celebrate, they are undoubtedly doing so with the subsequent PR in mind. After all, people do tend to feel more comfortable about supporting brands whose beliefs align with their own.

Ultimately, the PR campaign around Skittles’ packaging was of mutual benefit to both Skittles and the LGBT community. However, it is questionable whether companies like Skittles would have been so willing to show their support for LGBT Pride even ten years ago.