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Marketing Win/Marketing Fail: Pride Edition

Pride week: marketing win/marketing fail

You may have noticed social media is awash with rainbows recently. It’s that time of the year when brands worldwide make their logos, photos and even products multi-coloured: Pride month. It’s remarkable how far brands have come in recent years in embracing the LGBTQ+ community. What a powerful statement.

The tidal wave of Pride-based marketing campaigns has led some social commentators to, quite rightly in some cases, question whether these brands genuinely care about issues faced by LGBTQ+ community members, or is it just a shameful example of companies jumping on the bandwagon as a cynical attempt to make money.  


It’s a fine line to walk and brands have to be careful to not get accused of “rainbow washing”. Let’s take a look at the different approaches taken by two companies to Pride marketing for examples of what to do and what not to do.

Marketing Win

Pride week: Harry's Shave with Pride marketing win

Men’s online razor company Harry’s may be a surprising choice for Marketing Win when it comes to Pride, but it won the accolades of many people on social media for its campaign.

The shaving brand included a transgender man in an advertisement with the slogan “You can shave to feel like you.” It is donating 100% of the profits from their Shave with Pride razor to The Trevor Project, a not-for-profit aimed at helping LGBTQ+ youth.

This was clearly an example of putting your money where your mouth is. A lot of companies pay lip service to LGBTQ+ issues by changing their logo to a rainbow for a week but then not doing anything to advance Pride causes. By donating 100% of the profits from sales, Harry’s is making it clear this is not a cash grab.

The men’s grooming sector, which for years was all about associating brands with traditional notions of masculinity, is shifting away from its previous tactics. Gillette’s huge marketing campaign earlier this year, which flipped toxic masculinity on its head, has clearly shaken up the status quo.

Marketing Fail

Pride week: Cottonelle marketing fail

At the other side of the spectrum – or rainbow ­– there is Cottonelle. The toilet paper brand shared an ad with an eggplant emoji above the slogan, “Our flushable wipes will give you that just-showered feeling so you can keep the love going.”

The ad attracted online criticism from people who were not fans of the crude message. It was clearly trying to be lighter in tone but brands have to be careful about not playing Pride for laughs.

The message was just too one-dimensional, so it came across as a cynical attempt to get on the Pride gray train.

brands, marketing win/marketing fail, pride, woke washing