Beyond Pride Profits: Bud Light and Target

Por Melina del Castillo Imagen de un local de Target con productos del Orgullo.

In recent years, the marketing and advertising industry has witnessed brands aligning themselves with social causes, particularly during Pride Month. However, the experiences of two major U.S. brands, Bud Light and Target, have raised critical questions about the sincerity of their support for the LGBTIQ+ community. These stories serve as a learning experience, shedding light on the consequences of using Pride solely for profit while failing to wholeheartedly stand behind the people they ask to take hate and discrimination.

Let’s start with Target, a huge supermarket chain known for its inclusive marketing campaigns and advocacy for LGBTIQ+ rights. When the month of June arrived, Target unveiled its highly anticipated Pride collection. But amid the vibrant celebrations, a storm was brewing.

The company faced backlash from both conservatives and the LGBTIQ+ community. Critics argued that Target’s support of Pride was superficial and lacked substantive action beyond the realm of marketing. At the same time, conservative individuals threatened to boycott Target and vowed to discontinue their custom because the company supported Pride.

This not only put pressure on the brand, but also created a hostile environment for Target store workers who were caught in the crossfire of this social and political controversy, including receiving death threats. This disappointing scene led the store to pull its Pride merchandise from the shelves.

Overall, Target is known for its commitment to inclusivity and has a history of releasing collections that honor various cultural and social movements, such as Hispanic Heritage Month and Black History Month. They also offer customers the opportunity to donate to nonprofits associated with social and inclusive causes through their mobile app. While we understand the concern for the safety of employees who found themselves in a threatening situation, it begs the question: Was pulling the Pride merchandise from the shelves the most ethical decision to make?

In a parallel narrative, Bud Light, a longtime heavyweight in the beer industry, found itself in a similar dilemma. During Pride Month, this brand’s intention to celebrate diversity led them to connect with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney. 

Bud Light’s ad campaign featuring Mulvaney sparked controversy, drawing the ire of conservative consumers and prompting a boycott of the brand. 

What added to the disappointment, however, was Bud Light’s lack of support for the influencer in the wake of the hate she received. The brand did not reach out to her or offer any form of solidarity, raising questions about their true intentions and revealing a disheartening profit-driven motive behind their earlier gestures. 

Suddenly, Bud Light’s position as America’s best-selling beer was in jeopardy, further highlighting the delicate balance brands must strike when navigating polarizing social issues.


Trans people like beer too. 🏳️‍⚧️🍻

♬ original sound – Dylan Mulvaney

The Target and Bud Light cases highlight the difficulties businesses face when trying to market to the LGBTIQ+ community in a world divided by politics and ideology and driven by the encapsulating algorithms of social media. These incidents highlight the need for brands to go beyond mere lip service and truly advocate for the causes they claim to support. Now more than ever, it is imperative that companies demonstrate a genuine commitment to inclusivity and human rights, even in the face of adversity.

It is unacceptable for brands to exploit the experiences and struggles of the LGBTIQ+ community as mere marketing strategies, while failing to provide full support and protection to those they seek to reach.

Performative support during Pride Month without active protection of those facing hate speech and violence diminishes authenticity. It is critical for companies to demonstrate true allyship and a willingness to stand up for human rights, even in the face of opposition and backlash.

Bud Light campaign from 2019

Brands should foster acceptance, diversity, and respect by implementing non-discrimination policies, having diverse representation, supporting LGBTIQ+ organizations, conducting diversity training, advocating for LGBTIQ+ rights, creating inclusive products, and establishing employee resource groups. By taking these actions, brands can go beyond marketing and truly support the communities they claim to stand with, prioritizing the well-being and equality of all consumers and employees.

True freedom and equality should extend to everyone, regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, or other characteristics. It is critical that brands align their actions with their stated values and ensure that their support for the LGBTIQ+ community is not merely performative, but backed by real, tangible actions that contribute to positive change and social progress.

In conclusion, let us inspire brands to transcend profit-driven motives and ignite a transformative shift toward creating an inclusive and safe world for all. 

As communicators, we have the power to drive change. It is our responsibility to go beyond superficial gestures and actively promote human rights and inclusivity. We can help by amplifying diverse voices, showcasing authentic stories, and challenging stereotypes through powerful storytelling. 

Let us use our platforms to educate, empower and promote understanding, creating a ripple effect that leads to positive social change. Together, we can create a future where every individual is valued, respected, and celebrated for who they are.

Header image: Photo AP Seth Wenig

Melina del Castillo

Profesional de comunicación y marketing especializada en la creación de contenido digital.