This month (June) is global Pride month – a worldwide celebration of LGBT+ people and communities. Events, hashtags, rainbow logos and merch – lots and lots of merch. Just slap a rainbow and/or some sparkles on your products, adorn your logo with a rainbow and you’re done right! Erm no. You might be just be pinkwashing.

Claiming a ton of eco creds when you aren’t that eco is greenwashing; painting rainbows across all your products with no real contribution to the communities who could and should benefit is often called pinkwashing or rainbow capitalism.

I wanted to ponder whether you should offer up pride related merch without contributing to the cause.

Is Pride merch any different to other types of merch? Everyone is always profiting from something no? If you are part of the LGBT+ community do you benefit more from a supermarket (for example) having a rainbow logo for a month and selling rainbow t-shirts OR would it benefit you more to know you could apply for a job there and be fully accepted due to their inclusive non-discriminatory employment policies? Or that you see yourself represented in the brand’s ads?

I seem to recall M&S launching an LBGT sandwich one Pride month – eek. Yet, this bakery in Texas went viral after a post on Instagram about rainbow cookies resulted in a slew of negative comments on their ‘wokeness’. There was a backlash to the backlash, which resulted in queues around the block for said cookies, and when people outside of the area asked about shipping the cookies (they don’t ship) they were instead asked to donate to an animal rescue shelter. It’s a very cute story, particularly against the backdrop of where in the US the bakery is, BUT they were just selling rainbow cookies and only animal shelters (and the business) benefitted, so weren’t they pinkwashing?

From a PR perspective, it’s so important to be able to walk the talk and back up any Pride merch with real examples of what you as a business/brand are doing to support the cause, which may be financial, political, or social.

Be bold, be relevant, be authentic, but be honest.

Feel free to comment with brands you think are doing a good job this Pride month.