Candy company ditches the rainbow, goes gray for Pride Month

June is designated as LGBTQ Pride Month. Rainbows are a symbol of the gay community. So, what happens if a company uses rainbows in its advertising all year long and wants to do something different to recognize Pride Month? How about doing the opposite?

That is what Mars Wrigley U.S., the makers of Skittles has decided to do. The candy with “Taste the rainbow” as its slogan is ditching the rainbow for the month and donating $1 to GLAAD for each bag purchased, up to $100,000. The Skittles package is gray and states “Only one rainbow matters during PRIDE.”

It just goes to show that no company, even a candy company, can risk being seen as not woke enough in its marketing campaigns. This year marks the first time Skittles is going gray in the United States, though it has already been done in Canada, Germany, and the U.K. In order to avoid the overkill of rainbows by other companies during the month of June, Skittles is launching a “Give the rainbow” campaign.

So it’s a relief to see that Skittles has gone in the opposite direction, removing the rainbow—in fact, removing color entirely—from its packaging for a Pride partnership with GLAAD. The “Give the Rainbow” campaign plays on the concept that only one rainbow matters in June, and that’s the one that represents the diversity and visibility of the LGBTQ community.

This year, the special edition rainbow-less Skittles—colorless candies are packed inside the colorless branding—will be available for purchase in the U.S. for the first time, at CVS and select Walmart stores. The brand previously launched “Give the Rainbow” in Canada, Germany, and the U.K. While the candies lack color, they don’t lack flavor. The original five flavors of strawberry, orange, grape, green apple and lemon are all the same shade in the new packs.

It’s clever but won’t it be a little confusing for the consumer? How will they tell which Skittle is which flavor? Some of us eat them one at a time, you know. I pick out the grape flavored ones first. Just a thought.

So, the advertising campaign is a collaboration with GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) and the money will go towards its news and campaigns, according to the report.

“We believe that giving up our rainbow means so much more than just removing the colors from our Skittles packs,” said Hank Izzo, vp of marketing at Mars Wrigley U.S. in a statement, “and we’re excited to do our part in making a difference for the LGBTQ community through our partnership with GLAAD, not only in June, but all year long.”

According to Open Secrets, the organization that tracks contributions to political candidates, Mars, Inc. does not make political contributions. As of the 2016 presidential election, the company spent $1.7M on lobbying, and individuals have dedicated $36,166 in contributions to political candidates. All political contributions were made by employees or Mars family members, not the company itself. The top recipient of individual contributions was Hillary Clinton ($14,884). The second highest was Senator Ted Cruz ($4471) and third was Bernie Sanders ($3456). Donald Trump only received $114.00 in contributions. Clearly, the employees and family members lean Democrat more so than Republican.

I’ll end with this little tidbit: Skittles are now made in the Chicago area but up until 2016, they were made in Waco, Texas. The company is very protective of its secret process. My husband was once in the Waco plant and had to sign a confidentiality agreement to enter.

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