A growing number of Pride initiatives are accused of pink-washing on traditional and social media, new research finds

  • Commetric, the media analytics firm, have found new research that more brands are facing accusations of “pink-washing” during Pride.

    LGBTQ+ campaigners have criticised corporations for rainbow capitalism, accusing them of boosting their image by selling LGBTQ+-themed products, and many social media users have repeatedly pointed out inconsistencies between corporations’ messaging and their actions.

    Through analysing 1058 articles published in top-tier media outlets between May-June 2021, Commetric found that Disney, who made Pride Month a key focus of content curation on their streaming service ‘Disney+’, suffered the biggest reputational challenges both on traditional and social media.

    At the beginning of Pride Month, as Disney had just began publishing its Pride Month content, the company found itself at the centre of a sexual orientation discrimination lawsuit from an executive employee.

    Twitter users also noticed that on Disney’s official Twitter accounts outside the United States, in countries where LGBTQ+ issues are not as freely discussed, Pride Month was not celebrated.

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    Commetric’s research found other well-known companies have been accused of pink-washing, including Walmart, Amazon, and McDonalds. These companies all donated to members of Congress who voted against the Equality Act, a bill that would ban discrimination in the United States based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

    In addition, the names of six companies in particular- Comcast, AT&T, Home Depot, Deloitte, Exxon, and Verizon- spread online after ‘Public Citizen’, the consumer rights advocacy group tweeted that these companies donated considerable amounts of money to anti-LGBTQ politicians.

    However, some brands were able to avoid controversy surrounding ‘pink-washing’ including Apple, whose CEO is openly gay and are one of the most consistent corporate supporters of the LGBTQ+ community. This year, Apple released new Apple watch Pride bands and a new Pride watch face. The company also supports several LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations, including the National Center for Transgender Studies and Encircle.

    Based on the analysis, Commetric offers some best-practice solutions for avoiding accusations of pink-washing and implementing a more inclusive comms strategy.

    Read Commetric’s full analysis: “Pride 2021: How Can Brands Steer Clear of Pink-Washing?”

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