Brands Embracing Pride Month Confront a Volatile Political Climate
Target became the latest company to adjust plans for marketing supportive of the L.G.B.T.Q. community after it faced backlash from some customers.
For years, Pride Month, the annual celebration for L.G.B.T.Q. Americans, has afforded companies a marketing opportunity to tap into the buying power of a group with growing financial, political and social clout.
Yet, while these efforts have always faced some opposition, brands and marketers say the country’s current political environment — especially around transgender issues — has made this year’s campaigns more complicated.
This week Target became the latest company to rethink its approach after facing criticism for its Pride collection, which included clothes and books for children that drew outrage from some on the right.
The retailer moved its Pride displays — including rainbow-striped collared shirts, yellow hoodies reading “Not a Phase” and baby clothing and accessories — from the entrances of some Target stores around the country and placed them in the back.
Target said it was concerned “about threats impacting our team members’ sense of safety and well-being while at work” after some customers had screamed at employees and thrown the Pride-themed merchandise on the floor.
Among the items angering some customers was a one-piece, tuck-friendly swimsuit — a bathing suit that has extra material for the crotch area for individuals who want to conceal their genitalia.
Some critics erroneously claimed that the swimsuit was being sold to children; Target said it was available only in adult sizes. The collection also includes children’s books about transgender issues and gender fluidity
One woman recorded a TikTok video in a Target store on Monday in which she became angry at seeing a greeting card that read “So Glad You Came Out” and a yellow onesie that said “¡Bien Proud!”
“If that doesn’t give you a reason to boycott Target, I don’t know what does,” she said.