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Case Study: Companies Who Have Failed at Pride Month

Pride month has undoubtedly become one of the most eventful months of the year. We aren’t talking about the city-wide parades, we’re talking about the misguided allyship attempts by companies. Let’s review some of the Pride mishaps of the past and learn from these mistakes.

IKEA Canada Pride Couches

To show support during Pride month in 2021, IKEA Canada unveiled 10 Pride-themed loveseats for display at various IKEAs in Canada throughout the summer. Each of the 10 couches was created by one of four designers, three of whom identify as LGBTQ+, in collaboration with people who identified with each flag with hopes that the furniture reflected someone's real story.

While the reaction to a 9/10 of the couches was positive, the bi-sexual coach was subject to some harsh criticism on social media. According to the designer, Charlotte Carbone and the person's story who inspired it, Brian Lanigan, the couch makes much more sense with context.

While the intentions behind this couch were positive, the execution failed and, in turn, made IKEA the center of attention for all the wrong reasons.

Burger King’s Austria Whopper

In 2022, Burger King’s Austrian division launched a “Pride Whopper” campaign on Instagram. The highlights of the campaign were that the burger could be ordered with two identical bun halves, and the idea had something to do with same-sex love, but the design concept flopped. Big time.

The internet exploded with people pointing out that you could order a burger with two tops or two bottoms, which did not go well with the LGBTQ+ community.

The agency responsible for this campaign made a statement saying, “We at JvM Donau are proud of our queer community within our agency. Unfortunately, we still messed up and didn’t check well enough with community members on different interpretations of the Pride Whopper. That’s on us.”

While this doesn’t seem intentional, the company could have easily avoided this mistake by bringing in someone who identifies as LGBTQ+ to gain perspective from the community.

Listerine's Pride Bottle

A notable example of just slapping a rainbow onto something and calling it a Pride collection is the Listerine Pride Bottle. In 2019, the brand released a rainbow-colored mouthwash bottle with the slogan “Care with Pride,” and branded it with a series of seemingly meaningless words, including “healing,” “sunlight,” and “harmony.”

Twitter erupted. People were confused about the correlation between the LGBTQ+ community and mouthwash. Many mocked Listerine for its lazy attempt at allyship. Nothing says performative allyship like a rainbow-colored bottle of mouthwash.

Customers want to see themselves represented in brands. You'll prove that LGBTQ+ customers are welcome and included when connecting with them year-round. The LGBTQ+ community deserves better. It’s 2023. We can, and we need to do better. So, stop being false allies and do better.


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