Entry 667: Giant Pander

In September of 2015, I did a post about a nauseating-sounding product called Rainbow Doritos. It was just like regular Doritos, except it came in colors that were even more horrifying than the radioactive orange-red of Doritos Jacked Ranch Dipped Hot Wings flavor. I’m talking about purples and greens, which everyone knows do not occur on chips found in nature. There was also an accompanying explanation:

“We are honored to partner with the It Gets Better Project® to create our boldest chip yet. Each bag brings rainbow-colored chips inside and an inspiring quote on the outside.”

At the time I said that the whole thing was rather disingenuous, since the stated purpose was to benefit an organization for LGBTQ* teens, but the promotion did not even contain the words lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered or queer. Not even the name of the organization had any of those words in it. How could Doritos be doing something for the LGBTQ community without mentioning the people in that community?

Cynical me thought this might have something to do with Doritos not wanting to offend its core audience, the FFF community.**

Other marketers have tried this rainbow thing with varying degrees of success,  especially around Pride Days, which are celebrations for LGBTQ folks.

Heterosexuals don’t have a day like that, because, really, we have nothing to be proud of.

Anyway, I don’t do this very often, but I’m writing today to commend a company, if not exactly for its sincerity, then at least for its creativity. That firm is Mars, Inc., parent conglomerate of The Wrigley Company, owner of Skittles®.

Skittles, you see, had a problem. What, after all, do you do to make a statement for Pride Day if your product is already multicolored and your slogan is already “Taste the Rainbow™?”

Well, you could say something like “Skittles has been the Official LGBTQ Candy All Along,” but that might be too much of a long-term demographic commitment instead of a limited-time promotion. (“Honey, don’t eat that–it’s just for non-heterosexuals.”) Or you could do a whole campaign based on “Taste the Pride. Taste the Rainbow,” although, in that context, it might sound a tad unsavory. I mean, it’s bad enough that we don’t know what the hell a rainbow tastes like–now we have to worry about the flavor of LGBTQ pride, too?

Last year, and again this year, Skittles has, perhaps advisedly, gone in another direction. They unrainbowed their product. This was their open letter about it:

“So this is kind of awkward, but we’re just gonna go ahead and address the rainbow-colored elephant in the room. You have the rainbow … we have the rainbow … and usually that’s just hunky-dory.

“But this Pride, only one rainbow deserves to be the centre of attention—yours. And we’re not going to be the ones to steal your rainbow thunder, no siree. That’s why this weekend, we’re giving up our rainbow.”

Like the Doritos campaign, there is still no inclusion of the words gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or queer, but at least you get the feeling they’re overtly talking to LGBTQs.  Or unicorns.

I know what you’re thinking: “How does a major corporation put out a message with such an obvious spelling error? Did they not have a proofreader on board to correct ‘centre?’”

Geez, what a stupid comment! That’s not the spelling error! “Rainbow-colored” is the spelling error. It should have been “rainbow-coloured.” Because this campaign ran only in London.

As of yet, Skittles has not introduced its uncolored candy in the U.S.  (They have come up with an “America Mix,” even though, at this point in time, many Americans are severely lacking in pride, if not in their country, then definitely in their government.)

One reason why Americans may not experience these monochromatic munchies any time soon is that certain, um, sensitivities, seem somewhat heightened here on this side of the pond. This didn’t occur to me because I am relatively sane and because I was thinking about this product as “non-colored Skittles,” but evidently, some folks thought of them as “white Skittles.” (You can see where this is going, right?)

Yes, that is correct. The Twitterverse exploded with accusations of racism. Which does not bode well for next January, when stores have their white sales.

See you soon.

*Is it my imagination, or do they keep adding letters to this?
**Fat Football Fans, although I may be generalizing.

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