Scrolling through Facebook and Instagram during Mardi Gras Season is an exciting time. Seeing people posting photos of themselves in feather boas (which is a must) and glitter makeup is always a treat. This year’s Mardi Gras is particularly special as we celebrate Australia moving into the 21st century by legalizing gay marriage and allowing true equality for everyone who simply wants to love who they want to love.
However, hidden in between the glitz and glamour of the campiest and the most extra outfits, smiling newlywed gay couples (those are my favorites), and ridiculously good-looking guys flaunting their gym bod with glitter splashed over their chest is the occasional ad.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against large corporations throwing their support behind the LGBT community, as society continues to progress forward. It’s heartwarming to know that institutions that hold such large influence and power over our daily lives are invested in the wellbeing of a minority. As a group that is so often underrepresented in mainstream media, it’s truly a breath of fresh air when we see brands such as Holden, ANZ Bank, Absolut Vodka, and many more change their logo to a rainbow coloured one in support and solidarity. But the million dollar question is:
Do they actually care, or are we just an easy target?
I mean, I’m not suggesting that they’re only targeting the gay community during one of the gayest events in Australia to plug their products…wait, actually, yes I am suggesting that. Their claim of progressiveness sometime seems to be lacking any real good intention. I find it hard to believe that a car brand like Holden would suddenly have a vested interest in the well-being of the LGBT community. I mean, sure, they’re a partner and a donor to the event, but that usually comes with a caveat. And that caveat is shamelessly plugging their logo and product everywhere.
Call me a cynic but I can’t help but wonder: do they actually care about us, or is this just another platform to appeal to a group that so desperately wants validation and love?
When the brutal SSM campaign played out and the entire nation had to make the decision, brands everywhere came out of the woodwork and harped on the debate to gain PR brownie points from the public with as much subtlety as billion-dollar businesses can. Which to say the least is not much.
And although I applaud these companies for taking such a public stance on a relatively controversial issue, and certainly copping quite a lot of backlash from conservative nutjobs and weird bible thumpers that keep quoting that one line from Levictus, according to an article in The Guardian, The Equality Campaign “has not received any big donations from Australian companies to prosecute the yes case in the same-sex marriage postal survey.” Yes, that includes some of the brands being shown in the photo above.
Which makes the proclivity to support big and good causes ring kind of hollow.
And this is definitely not solely an LGBT issue. Dove, famous for its feel-good message about appreciating your body and its ‘real women’ campaign, which is all about “helping to make beauty a source of confidence, not anxiety.” Touching. Really.
Unfortunately, that type of message seems to get lost in translation very quickly when we look at other brands under Dove‘s parent company- specifically Lynx/Axe.
It’s ironic that a brand which prides itself on uplifting and empowering woman is actually closely associated with a brand that prides itself on controversial and extremely sexist ads which are detrimental to women.
As you can see, there’s a huge contrast between the two campaigns being shown here.