In recent years, June has been a time for brands to showcase their inclusivity and try to be seen as modern and progressive in support of Pride Month and the LGBTQ+ community. That is not the case this year, at least for now. Amid a frenzy of anti-LGBTQ+ activity from a growing faction of alt-right conservatives, many brands are staying silent. It’s a stark contrast from last year, when Miller Lite released a book on the history of queer bars, as part of its “Open and Proud” platform, Gymshark created a video series of LGBTQ+ people finding inclusivity in fitness, and Mastercard hosted a “Pride Plaza” in the metaverse.
Neither Molson Coors, which owns Miller Lite, nor Mastercard responded to an inquiry about Pride Month marketing this year; a representative for Gymshark said in late May that the fitness brand had nothing planned. Other brands that are planning Pride Month activations, such as Ulta Beauty, Chapstick, Absolut and Calvin Klein, said executives were unavailable to speak on the topic. The caution is at odds with what experts have seen in previous years—and is an early indicator that brands will stay quieter on Pride activations.
“In the past, when Pride Month would come up, sometimes we saw brands hesitating because they were fearful their allyship would seem shallow and that they weren’t doing enough. Now, we’re hearing concerns even from brands that have activated successfully in the past that now they might find themselves in the middle of a culture war,” said Lisa Weser, a former head of marketing communications and brand PR for Anheuser-Busch InBev who is currently CEO of Trailblaze, an agency for consumer packaged goods and cannabis brands.