Many brands have been celebrating LGBTQ+ pride month, which takes place throughout the month of June, by showing their support for the cause on social media. Some of these brands have also launched new products whose profits go to funding organizations that provide support and assistance for LGBTQ+ folk.
In support of pride month, Instagram itself has helped 5 members of the LGBTQ+ community meet their role models in real life and launched an update that makes hashtags related LGBTQ+, such as #pride2018, #LGBTpride, #gaypride, #genderfluid, #loveislove and #lovewins, appear in rainbow on the platform.
Despite the encouraging show of solidarity from big companies like Instagram, the LGBTQ+ community continues to face discrimination on many fronts. Brands who choose to profess their support for the community stand the risk of alienating those who remain vehemently opposed to their cause and brands must negotiate between what is ethical and what is profitable in making their choice.
Comment Sentiment Analysis on Brands Who Support the LGBTQ+ Cause
Some brands have chosen in favor of expressing support and announcing one’s allegiance publicly, on a social media platform like Instagram, invites both negative as much as positive responses. Let us take a look at who some of these brands are and what some of the user-responses towards their announcements have been.
MAC Cosmetics (@maccosmetics) has made several posts about pride month, including a video showcasing the values they stand for, a carousel of regrams featuring the LGBTQ+ symbol (the rainbow) and photographs of the MAC family at the LA pride festival.
For this comment analysis, we chose the carousel of regrams, which we have featured below, as it received the highest number of comments of the three posts.
Overall: Positive (72%), with many users expressing love for the look created and wanting to know the products that were used to create them.
Top 3 emojis used: 😍 🌈 ❤
Most used word: “beautiful”
What to note: While there were a few negative comments questioning MAC Cosmetics’s choice to openly support the LGBTQ+ community, a significant number of comments were directed at the beauty brand’s lack of cruelty-free status. Users asked the brand why they “still test[ed] on animals” and expressed their inability to support the brand because of this.
II. Milk Makeup
Milk Makeup (@milkmakeup) announced a “limited edition glitter pride collection” for the month of June, stating that 50% of proceeds from sales would be donated to The Center (@lgbtcenternyc), which provides support for LGBTQ+ persons and runs arts and advocacy programs among other events.
Although there have been several posts made about their new range of products, for the purposes of comment analysis, we have selected Milk Makeup’s announcement video shown below.
✨GLITTER = PRIDE✨ ❤🧡💛💚💙💜 – TBH, June is probably our favorite month of the year. Just like tiny specs of rainbow glitter, each of us makes up a unique piece of a beautiful spectrum. That’s why this Pride Month we’re fully confessing our love for glitter, inclusivity, self-expression and P R I D E. – We’ve created a limited-edition glitter pride collection in which 50% of the proceeds from both milkmakeup.com & sephora.com will benefit the LGBTQ+ community through @lgbtcenternyc. – Wanna know more? Peep our insta stories & check the link in bio for a sneak peek of what’s to come. – What does GLITTER = _________ to you? 🏳️🌈✨ #milkmakeuppride
Overall: Positive (59%), with many users expressing love for the product itself and some looking forward to getting their hands on the glitter.
Top 3 emojis used: 🌈 ❤ 😍
Most used word: “glitter”
What to note: The social media managers at Milk Makeup have certainly been putting in the hours, responding to users on the platform. 1 of every 5 comments on the post is from Milk Makeup! Negative comments on the platform include statements about the harmful effects of glitter on the environment as well as queries about how the word “proceeds” ought to be interpreted and why the company decided to donate only 50% of proceeds and not the full 100%.
Revolve (@revolve), an online platform for some of the largest fashion and clothing brands, announced their support for pride without much fanfare–neither introducing a new collection nor offering to donate profits from an existing collection to groups that are supportive of LGBTQ+.
Overall: Positive (79%), with multiple users appearing to comment on the image (of the rainbow) rather than the message itself.
Top 3 emojis used: 😍 🌈 ❤
Most used word: “love”
What to note: Although the post was made in support of the LGBTQ+ community and is quite different from the account’s usual posts, which typically feature women in Revolve clothing, the comments made on this post do not actually reflect much of this difference. Perhaps this means that the visitors to Revolve’s Instagram page have a healthier relationship with the LGBTQ+ community than other brands.
American specialty retailer J.Crew (@jcrew) announced that it would be donating “50% of the purchase price of a collection of tees” to Human Rights Campaign (@humanrightscampaign), which works towards achieving equality for LGBTQ+ peoples. In addition, they also created a series of posts in which they featured some individuals wearing J.Crew “Love First” t-shirts, and their answers to the question, “What does #lovefirst mean to you?” Featured below is the first post in that series.
🌈 To celebrate LGBTQ Pride Month, we’re proud to donate 50% of the purchase price of a collection of tees to @humanrightscampaign, America’s largest civil rights organization working to ensure LGBTQ people are safe, equal and free in every community. We asked a few of our friends to tell us what #lovefirst means to them. Link in bio.
Overall: Positive (56%), with a lot of back-and-forth conversation happening between supporters and detractors of LGBTQ+.
Top 3 emojis used: 🌈 ❤ 👍
Most used word: “love”
What to note: Negative comments were, in certain cases, of a religious nature, with some users quoting events in or verses from the Bible. In other cases, users derided J.Crew for politicizing their clothing, and asked the company why they did not just stick to making clothes instead.
Another American clothing company, American Eagle (@americaneagle) announced their support for pride earlier this month, stating in the same Instagram image that 100% of sales from their Pride collection will be going to the It Gets Better Project (@itgetsbetter), which helps provide support for LGBTQ+ youth.
Overall: Positive (79%), and for the first time, without a single negative comment.
Top 3 emojis used: ❤ 👏 🙌
Most used word: “love”
What to note: The post received very few comments–only 21, 76% fewer than American Eagle’s average number of comments received in the last three months. That said, all of the comments made were either spam or in support of the LGBTQ+ cause, which is surprising, given the controversial and divisive nature of LGBTQ+ rights. Several other posts made by American Eagle about their Pride collection did not quite manage to come out so unscathed, with discussion about the LGBTQ+ featuring heavily in the comments.
Converse (@converse) teamed up with American singer-songwriter and actress Miley Cyrus, who is known to be gender fluid and openly expresses her support for the LGBTQ+ community. Together, they created the 2018 Converse Pride Collection, with “net proceeds” of the shoes going towards supporting Converse’s LGBTQ+ youth community partners around the world, Happy Hippie Foundation (@happyhippiefdn), the It Gets Better Project (@itgetsbetter), RainbowYOUTH (@rainbowyouth) and Minus18 (@minus18youth).
The 2018 Converse Pride Collection, designed by @MileyCyrus, celebrates those who advocate for a tomorrow where everyone is free to be their true authentic selves. All net proceeds of the Converse Pride Collection will support our LGBTQ+ youth community partners globally. #ConversePride @happyhippiefdn @itgetsbetter @rainbowyouth @minus18youth
Overall: Positive (62%), with some negative comments being about users’ inability to purchase the shoes because they were limited edition and sold out very quickly.
Top 3 emojis used: 😍 🌈 😭
Most used word: “love”
What to note: Some of the negative comments here, especially those pertaining to the LGBTQ+ peoples, tended to be more aggressive, with a number of users telling “homos” to “f*ck off”. Of the four pairs of shoes, the platforms appear to be most desirable amongst those who have commented, followed by the high-tops. Multiple users also expressed that the shoes would go great with their “pride outfit”.
VII. Samuel Adams Beer
It certainly hasn’t only been makeup and fashion brands that have expressed their support for LGBTQ+ pride month. Samuel Adams Beer (@samueladamsbeer) also added to the mix, releasing a new creation–Love Conquers Beer–and donating $1 to Boston Pride (@boston.pride) for every pint sold.
Overall: Positive (59%), with several comments suggesting that brands who capitalize on pride month for their own sales are making use of LGBTQ+ peoples.
Top 3 emojis used: 🌈 ❤ 🏳️🌈
Most used word: “beer”
What to note: Fewer use of emojis than in the comments made on the posts mentioned above. Several comments had users suggesting that they would like to have the koozie more than they would like to try the beer.
Common Comments and Concluding Thoughts
Analysis of the comments on these seven posts reveals a common thread among negative comments. Aside from posts with religious undertones and those cursing at LGBTQ+ peoples, there were also multiple posts from users indicating shock and disappointment at finding out that a brand they were following was in support of the LGBTQ+ community.
Brands who call themselves supporters of LGBTQ+ and are receiving a large number of such comments are perhaps not doing enough throughout the year to identify themselves as supporters, since followers would otherwise be alerted of their position on the matter regularly. While there is certainly no need for brands to align themselves with certain values, with some customers actually preferring that brands stay neutral (as seen from the comment analysis above), brands who do choose to show their support for a cause should ideally express this support all year round. This reduces the chances of brands being seen as opportunistic and instead as truly rallying for a cause.