Millions celebrated the news that gay marriage is now legal in all states under the US Constitution by giving their profile pictures a rainbow hue this week, and good on them. The change is fantastic news, a landmark decision and it's great to see people coming together to share their pride.
But then the brands, which in 2015 are locked in a constant battle to be your best mate by emulating your online persona and conversation style, waded in, muddying the colour palette.
First the major social networks altered their logos across their various accounts, then, like dominos, clothing, airline, taxi and even tea companies followed suit, fearing that the failure to change them might amount to tacit homophobia.
Here's what one user had to say on PG Tips' Facebook page, where its monkey puppet mascot wore rainbow glasses and a rainbow neckerchief and held a rainbow mug in front of a rainbow flag:
'You shouldn't be using the character of monkey, normally associated with pg tea for political purposes…thus is no place to be promoting gays. It is a lifestyle choice, it shouldn't be imposed on the rest of us by using popukar characters.' (sic)
While I wildly disagree with the user's ideology and esoteric approach to spelling, they did hit on a key point about brands piggybacking on political events as if it is the same thing as leeching off national holidays.
The decision of these brands to 'go rainbow' was probably varyingly motivated by everything from sincere pride to shrewd, calculated marketing strategy. For the likes of Facebook and Twitter, with shared goals of bringing people together, it made sense, for others it was problematic and disingenuous, with United Airlines adopting a 'gay friendly' Facebook cover photo despite one of its managers previously been accused of calling customers "faggots" and Uber offering a rainbow promo code in spite of the fact one of its drivers once allegedly ejected a gay couple from a car for kissing on the backseat.
For some it simply made no sense. What does it mean for the PG Tips monkey to support marriage equality? In light of previous scandals with B&Bs, it's easy to see that Airbnb declaring itself in-line with the LGBT community can be helpful to customers, but what has mid-priced tea got to do with anything? Is it with great relief this morning that thousands of Britons awake safe in the knowledge that their cup isn't going to shout bigoted slurs at them?
What does Charmin toilet roll think about gay rights? What is Mr. Muscle's view on the death sentence? So help me god I'm washing my household surfaces with ditch water until they let me know.
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