If you see your favorite brands modifying their logos to match the colors of the rainbow, you know you’ve officially entered June when Pride Month marketing campaigns take center stage. From nationwide brands to online retailers, this is the time everyone is clamoring to show their support for the LGBTQIA+ community.

While some brands nail their branding and rack up the praise, others miss the mark entirely and end up paying the price. 

If you think back to 2023, you may remember that Target faced a lot of backlash from conservatives over their Pride Month merchandise because they felt it was ‘woke’ and even threatened the safety of their staff. While many agree that the retailer did nothing wrong, Target’s response which included removing some Pride Month merch was met with backlash from supporters of gay and transgender rights because they believed Target caved into the piling pressure. In fact, only 26% of respondents said that the retailer showed authenticity in their Pride Month support. Not a figure you want to boast about, right?

Target’s in-store display of Pride products | The New York Times

The result? Their online sales dropped by 10.5% and were left with no choice but to cut their annual sales forecast. While their intentions may have been good, they couldn’t see it through and this is where brands need to take note when carrying out their Pride Month marketing campaigns and make sure they’re willing to stand up for their beliefs, especially when it comes to a topic that typically generates polarizing opinions.

But before we dig deeper into how your brand can get its Pride Month marketing campaigns right with a look into brands that have nailed it (and those that flopped), let’s take it all the way back to how Pride became a huge part of marketing.

Marketing to the LGBTQIA+ community: The evolution of how it all began

Many acknowledge that the birthplace of Pride started as an uprising at the Stonewall Inn in 1969. Over 50 years later, Pride has evolved and while it may have started as a riot, today, it can seem more retail-driven.

Stonewall Riots 1969 | Business Insider

At first, stores and brands weren’t too keen on showing their support but since then, there’s been a sizable shift with companies jumping at the opportunity to show their solidarity with the LGBTQIA+ community. So let’s get into what marketing to the LGBTQIA+ community looked like over the decades.

1920s to 1940s

Marketing to the LGBTQIA+ community wasn’t really a massive priority during these decades. Even though the existence of the community wasn’t kept under wraps, marketing was more about going against the LGBTQIA+ community than in support of it, even though their contributions to different aspects of society—mainly the art scene—were undeniable. So, sadly marketing hadn’t really gotten around to supporting this growing community just yet.

1950s, 1960s, and 1970s

With propaganda running rampant, marketing and discrimination against the community grew stronger. What little marketing efforts were being carried out were rainbow-washed and were covert campaigns run largely by the community itself.

So in the ‘60s, Pride Month campaigns took the form of protests and boycotts. This continued into the ‘70s with the LGBTQIA+ community needing to do a lot of work to receive marketing attention.

1980s and 1990s

The dawn of the ‘80s was perhaps the turning point when brands were making an effort to connect with the LGBTQIA+ community. Even with this acknowledgment, many brands were still trying to go about their marketing to the community vaguely because of the strong opinions of their homophobic audiences, which carried over to the 2000s and beyond.

2000s and 2010s

With prejudices and discrimination still running wild, the 2000s made a huge splash across the U.S. and the world with their Pride marketing campaigns. We’re talking about big brands like Absolut Vodka, United Colors of Benetton, IKEA, and Subaru leading the charge in marketing to the LGBTQIA+ community.

Subaru ads aimed at the lesbian community | Reddit

While the ‘80s may have been the turning point, the new millennium brought an air of change that brands just couldn’t continue ignoring.

Now that we’ve covered the decades and the evolution of marketing to the LGBTQIA+ community behind us, let’s get into the campaigns of today and the lessons these blockbuster brands have in store for marketers who want to make the right kind of splash for a community that’s becoming a big part of their target audience.

Pride marketing campaigns of today

If you’ve ever wondered how big the LGBTQIA+ community is, here’s a figure that may surprise you. According to LGBT Capital, the LGBTQIA+ community has an estimated USD 3.9 trillion in purchasing power. That’s a lot of money to be leaving on the table.

Over the years, brands have tried to market their products and services to this close-knit community, but many have failed because they just didn’t get the message right or didn’t know how to genuinely make a connection in a meaningful way.

The Bad – Missing the mark in a BIG way

Here are three brands that are perfect examples of how easy it is to miss your opportunity.

Bud Light

In 2021, the team at Bud Light released a Pride Month marketing campaign that would leave the queer community speechless. What did they do? They used the LGBTQ acronym and created a slogan for their brand intending to sell more beer.

We didn’t have a microscope into the team meeting behind this campaign but we’re betting that the campaign was put together with zero queer voices in the room.

Bud Light 2021 Pride Month campaign | Exposure Ninja

Lesson: Don’t turn the LGBTQ acronym into a sales pitch for your product and more importantly, if you’re targeting a very specific group of people in your marketing, it might help to have some people from that community involved in the decision-making phase or at least in the form of a focus group before making it a nationwide campaign.

The U.S. Marines

For 17 years, ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was a law that prevented members of the LGBTQIA+ community from serving in the U.S. armed forces and if your status was revealed, discrimination was almost always guaranteed.

So in 2022, when the U.S. Marines released their Pride Month campaign, ‘Proud to Serve’, the criticism was almost instant as many called it an empty gesture and a perfect example of performative support.

At first, it seemed like a step forward in making the establishment more inclusive, but it overlooked its past of discrimination against the very community they were now trying to support. And if that wasn’t enough for the criticism to flow, the campaign on X (formerly known as Twitter) used rainbow bullets to ‘celebrate’ Pride Month. Massive fail!

U.S. Marines’ ‘Proud to Serve’ campaign | Military Times

Lesson: When trying to market to a community that has historically been discriminated against, it’s important to make sure that you’re not promoting tokenism. Using a rainbow on your website is a marketing strategy that many businesses use, but if you’re failing to address the issues that have plagued the community, especially if your brand was once an advocate of those issues, then you can’t just ignore the negative. Brands need to take responsibility, acknowledge their shortcomings, and make genuine efforts to support and celebrate the community.


Celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community is great, but you can’t add a rainbow to a product and expect the community to sing your praises. That’s just lazy. But back in 2019, Listerine thought it would be a great strategy and released this limited-edition product. The community may not have found it offensive, but many just called it embarrassing.

Listerine’s Pride Month campaign in 2019 | Yahoo Life UK

While they got most of the words associated with the colors correct, unfortunately, they decided to take a different approach when adding the names to turquoise and indigo. They even ended up leaving the pink strip out which represented sexuality.

Lesson: If you’re supporting the LGBTQIA+ community in your Pride Month campaign, it’s a good idea to not half-ass it. Think about whether your branding or marketing is making a real impact or if it’s just a skin-deep effort to make your brand appear inclusive. Your marketing team may think it’s a win, but the community you’re trying to connect with may not.

The Good – Killing it (in all the right ways!)

Now that we’ve seen how easy it is to get Pride Month marketing wrong, here are some brands that did some great work and got showered with praise.


Everyone knows LEGO. It’s one of the best-known brands around the world whose products aren’t just loved by kids, but are enjoyed by adults as well. One of their main goals is to celebrate creativity and learning in a fun way.

Calling it the ‘Everyone is Awesome’ campaign, LEGO wanted to celebrate their LGBTQIA+ community by featuring the Progress Pride flag colors to raise awareness and celebrate everyone.

The campaign got over 23,000 mentions on social media posts, blogs, and other sites. With an overwhelming 87% of consumers sharing the post with positive comments/reactions, it was a runaway success with many sharing photographs of their edited LEGO sets with the community.

The praise didn’t stop there. LEGO went on to win the British LGBT Award in 2022 for the campaign and extended production until 2024.

LEGO’s ‘Everyone is Awesome’ Pride campaign | CTV News

Lesson: The campaign worked because LEGO stayed authentic to who they were and their values. They didn’t use big words or big campaigns. They used simple figures that LEGO fans have loved for decades to create something that the LGBTQIA+ community, and even consumers who didn’t belong to the community, loved. 


54 million. That’s how many Apple Watches the tech giant sold in 2022 which gave them a cool USD 14-18 billion in revenue. Needless to say, those are some hefty figures so it made sense for them to take it up a notch and add some color to their products.

Since 2018, Apple has released bands and faces every year for Pride Month. The bands and faces were manufactured in rainbow colors to celebrate diversity and inclusivity. 

Apple’s colorful faces and bands | Pink News

Every year, public interest for these Pride editions grows and the 2023 announcement of the Pride bands got over 3,500 mentions before Pride Month even came around! With over 80% positive reviews, it’s a foregone conclusion that consumers are loving it.

Lesson: When Apple released the colorful faces, it wasn’t for purchase—it was free. Anyone could buy them and that made it about the community rather than a money-making endeavor. Plus, they also made it so much more than just an annual release by building anticipation throughout the year. Your brand needs to make Pride a part of your core values if you want any chance of succeeding. It needs to be authentic and having a long-term commitment matters.


When it comes to matching the colors of the rainbow, no one can do it at the level of Skittles. After all, their product itself is colorful. So when it was time to celebrate Pride, Skittles did a complete 180 and turned their fruity treats monochromatic. The message they were trying to send? During Pride Month, only one rainbow mattered and that was the rainbow represented on the Pride flag.

Skittles’ monochrome packs | CNN

They even partnered with artists from the—you guessed it—LGBTQIA+ community to come up with some unique designs. 

The campaign generated a lot of buzz with over 18,000 reposts and 20,000 mentions. One of the posts ended up with the 6th highest engagement levels for about a year. An X user tweeted that the campaign ‘made me actually feel supported’. The campaign was so successful that they repeated the campaign in partnership with GLAAD.

Lesson: When it comes to Pride Month, brands need to remember that it’s not all about them—it’s about the LGBTQIA+ community. Try to feature voices and opinions from members of the community. Similar to Skittles, you can even contribute a portion of your Pride Month earnings to organizations that support the LGBTQIA+ community. 

Pride Month marketing—getting it right matters!

Pride Month shouldn’t be seen as just another marketing campaign. It’s about reflecting your commitment to the LGBTQIA+ community. Adding rainbows to your marketing campaigns is fine, but that shouldn’t represent your efforts as a whole.

It’s about making an authentic connection with the LGBTQIA+ community and making a real difference. To do this successfully, you need a marketing strategy that connects with this audience. You may have some campaigns already brewing in your mind or you may need some help. Either way, it’s important to have a long-term plan and execute it so that it goes beyond just one month on your corporate calendar.


1. How can we ensure our Pride campaigns are authentic and avoid rainbow-washing? 

Companies should go beyond just adding rainbows on their products or websites. Authenticity is all about having policies that genuinely support LGBTQIA+ employees. Partnering with LGBTQIA+ organizations and promoting messages of inclusivity year-round can all be great ways to build authenticity.

2. What are some dos and don’ts for Pride imagery and messaging? 

Use the full LGBTQIA+ rainbow flag colors correctly. Don’t reduce it to just rainbow colors which can seem lazy. Uplift LGBTQIA+ voices and experiences through your creativity. Don’t make it all about your brand and instead celebrate the community you’re trying to connect with. Educate yourself on proper terminology and representation and don’t resort to stereotypes.

3. How can we continue our LGBTQIA+ support after Pride Month ends? 

Pride should be a yearlong commitment, not just a single campaign. Continue using inclusive marketing, update product lines and workplaces to be more inclusive, and push for LGBTQIA+ rights through your corporate social responsibility efforts. Allow LGBTQIA+ employee resource groups to guide your internal policies and external messaging.