Consumer goods and sexual identity

When to mind your business

lego enters a marketing mineeld with its rst gay set

 




Jun 5th 2021 | words 726

 

 

 

IT IS A branding message that fits into the moral confusion of our time, thundered Albert Mohler, the high-profile president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, in one of his daily podcasts at the end of May. Christian evangelical leaders and pundits at Fox News, a conservative cable network, are up in arms about the international launch on June 1st, the first day of Pride month, of LEGOs lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual and anyone who is not included ( LGBTQIA+) set. Will Cain, a conservative Fox News host, joked that the colour-coded segregation of the new diversity toy could have been designed by David Duke, a former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

 

Marketing gay-themed products can be a boon for consumer-goods companiesor a humiliating embarrassment. In the early 1980s Swedens Absolut vodka was one of the first consumer brands to go after the gay consumer (considered a trendsetter) by advertising in LGBTQ media outlets, sponsoring events such as the Pride parade and donating to charities. LEGO, which is Danish, waited another four decades to launch Everyone is Awesome, a 346-piece set of 11 monochrome mini-figurines in the colours of the Progress Pride Flag. Brown and black figures represent ethnic diversity; pale blue, white and pink reflect the transgender banner. Each comes with an individual hairstyle but no defined gender (except for the beehive bewigged purple drag queen).

 

 

Progress Pride Flag

Description

Designed in 2018 by Graphic designer Daniel Quasar, Quasar added a five-colored chevron to the classic Rainbow Flag to place a greater emphasis on inclusion and progression. Quasars Progress Pride Flag added five arrow-shaped lines to the six-colored Rainbow Flag, which is widely recognized as the symbol of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBTQ+) community.

 

The flag includes black and brown stripes to represent marginalized LGBTQ+ communities of color, along with the colors pink, light blue and white, which are used on the Transgender Pride Flag.

 

This is new territory for us, admits Matthew Ashton, who designed the figurines as a display or statement for those aged 18 or over. (Hundreds of thousands of LEGO customers are adults.) In the past the company made a few subtle nods to gays, such as a little rainbow flag in a model of Trafalgar Square and a bride and groom sold separately. Mr Ashton initially created the set for his personal desk, but it soon attracted the attention of colleagues. He hopes it will start many conversations he wishes he could have had when growing up as a gay man in Britain in the 1980s.

 

Ian Johnson, chief executive of Out Now, a consultancy advising companies on the development of LGBTQ marketing strategies, says his initial reaction to the toys launch was dismissive. He thought LEGO was just another firm keen to make a quick buck at the start of Pride Month(); the global spending power of gay consumers is around $3.9trn annually, according to LGBT Capital, a research firm. He changed his mind once he saw how LEGO made its new product very visible by, for instance, publishing a five-minute video on its website of Mr Ashton telling the story of his teenage struggles with his sexuality at the height of the AIDS epidemic.

 

Corporate rainbow-washing can occasionally backfire. The launch in 2019 of a LGBTQ sandwich (lettuce, guacamole, bacon and tomatoes) by Marks & Spencer, a British retailer, provoked a backlash among gays enraged about being equated with a sarniesandwich. Burger King, an American chain of fast-food restaurants, triggered a similar reaction when it wrapped its whopper in rainbow-coloured foil.

 

In January last year the chief executive of Hallmark Channel, an American television network specialising in family films, had to resign after pulling ads showing a same-sex couple marrying and kissingand then reversing the decision following an outcry by consumers. This year Mondelez, a packaged-food behemoth, had to defend a British advertising campaign for its Cadbury Creme Egg in which a male gay couple passes a chocolate egg from mouth to mouth.

 

LEGO is aware of the need to tread carefully with cultural sensitivities and religious customs. The new set will not be sold in Indonesia, Kuwait, Malaysia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, where displaying a sexual identity other than straight can be unsafe (though the firm may launch it in Russia next month, despite widespread homophobia there). Ultimately it is up to local toy shops to decide which LEGO sets they sell. Few are likely to boycott the popular blocks altogether. And the toy shop in Reverend Mohlers parish can just give the new set a pass. 

 

 

VOCABULARY


thunder

thunder / nd(r) / (literary) to shout, complain, etc. very loudly and angrily

:

[V]  

He thundered against the evils of television.   

 

[V speech]  

'Sit still!' she thundered.   

""

 

evangelical

evangelical / ivndelikl /

adj. 

1. of or belonging to a Christian group that emphasizes the authority of the Bible and the importance of people being saved through faith

They're evangelical Christians.   

 

2. wanting very much to persuade people to accept your views and opinions

He delivered his speech with evangelical fervour.  

  

evangelicalism noun [U]

 

pundit

pundit / pndit / 

noun 1. a person who knows a lot about a particular subject and who often talks about it in public

SYN expert 2. = pandit 

 

queer

queer / kwi(r); NAmE kwir /

adj. (queerer, queerest)

1. (old-fashioned) strange or unusual

SYN odd 

His face was a queer pink colour.   

2. (taboo, slang) an offensive way of describing a homosexual , especially a man, which is, however, also used by some homosexuals about themselves

noun

(taboo, slang) an offensive word for a homosexual , especially a man, which is, however, also used by some homosexuals about themselves

 

segregation

segregation / segrigein / 

noun [U] 1. the act or policy of separating people of different races, religions or sexes and treating them in a different way

(),:

 racial / religious segregation   

/  

segregation by age and sex   

 

2. (formal) the act of separating people or things from a larger group

()

the segregation of smokers and non-smokers in restaurants   

 

boon

boon / bun / 

noun ~ (to / for sb) something that is very helpful and makes life easier for you

The new software will prove a boon to Internet users.   

 

monochrome

monochrome / mnkrum; NAmE mnkroum / 

adj.

1. (of photographs, etc. ) using only black, white and shades of grey

monochrome illustrations / images   

/  

(figurative) a dull monochrome life  

 


figurine

figurine / figrin; NAmE figjrin / 

noun 

a small statue of a person or an animal used as a decorative object

(), 

 

dismissive

dismissive / dismisiv /

adj. ~ (of sb / sth) showing that you do not believe a person or thing to be important or worth considering

SYN disdainful 

a dismissive gesture / tone   

/ 


backfire

backfire / bkfai(r) / 

verb [V] 

1. ~ (on sb) to have the opposite effect to the one intended, with bad or dangerous results

()

Unfortunately the plan backfired.   

, 

2. (of an engine or a vehicle ) to make a sudden noise like an explosion


backlash

backlash / bkl / 

noun [sing.] ~ (against sth) | ~ (from sb) a strong negative reaction by a large number of people, for example to sth that has recently changed in society

(),

The government is facing an angry backlash from voters over the new tax.   

 

equate

equate / ikweit / 

verb [VN]

~ sth (with sth) to think that sth is the same as sth else or is as important

Some parents equate education with exam success.   

 

I don't see how you can equate the ten things.   

 

homophobia

homophobia / hmfubi / 

noun [U]

a strong dislike and fear of homosexual people

homophobic adj. 

 


About Pride Month

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month is currently celebrated each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan. The Stonewall Uprising was a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. In the United States the last Sunday in June was initially celebrated as "Gay Pride Day," but the actual day was flexible. In major cities across the nation the "day" soon grew to encompass a month-long series of events. Today, celebrations include pride parades, picnics, parties, workshops, symposia and concerts, and LGBTQ Pride Month events attract millions of participants around the world. Memorials are held during this month for those members of the community who have been lost to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS. The purpose of the commemorative month is to recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally.

 

In 1994, a coalition of education-based organizations in the United States designated October as LGBT History Month. In 1995, a resolution passed by the General Assembly of the National Education Association included LGBT History Month within a list of commemorative months. National Coming Out Day (October 11), as well as the first "March on Washington" in 1979, are commemorated in the LGBTQ community during LGBT History Month.

 

Annual LGBTQ+ Pride Traditions

The first Pride march in New York City was held on June 28, 1970, on the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising. Primary sources available at the Library of Congress provide detailed information about how this first Pride march was planned and the reasons why activists felt so strongly that it should exist. Looking through the Lili Vincenz and Frank Kameny Papers in the Librarys Manuscript Division, researchers can find planning documents, correspondence, flyers, ephemera and more from the first Pride marches in 1970. This, the first U.S. Gay Pride Week and March, was meant to give the community a chance to gather together to "...commemorate the Christopher Street Uprisings of last summer in which thousands of homosexuals went to the streets to demonstrate against centuries of abuse ... from government hostility to employment and housing discrimination, Mafia control of Gay bars, and anti-Homosexual laws" (Christopher Street Liberation Day Committee Fliers, Franklin Kameny Papers). The concept behind the initial Pride march came from members of the Eastern Regional Conference of Homophile Organizations (ERCHO), who had been organizing an annual July 4th demonstration (1965-1969) known as the "Reminder Day Pickets," at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. At the ERCHO Conference in November 1969, the 13 homophile organizations in attendance voted to pass a resolution to organize a national annual demonstration, to be called Christopher Street Liberation Day.

 

As members of the Mattachine Society of Washington, Frank Kameny and Lilli Vincenz participated in the discussion, planning, and promotion of the first Pride along with activists in New York City and other homophile groups belonging to ERCHO.

 

By all estimates, there were three to five thousand marchers at the inaugural Pride in New York City, and today marchers in New York City number in the millions. Since 1970, LGBTQ+ people have continued to gather together in June to march with Pride and demonstrate for equal rights.

 

Watch documentary footage of the first Pride march, "Gay and Proud," a documentary by activist Lilli Vincenz:






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Economist | When to mind your business


Consumer goods and sexual identity

When to mind your business

lego enters a marketing mineeld with its rst gay set

 




Jun 5th 2021 | words 726

 

 

 

IT IS A branding message that fits into the moral confusion of our time, thundered Albert Mohler, the high-profile president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, in one of his daily podcasts at the end of May. Christian evangelical leaders and pundits at Fox News, a conservative cable network, are up in arms about the international launch on June 1st, the first day of Pride month, of LEGOs lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual and anyone who is not included ( LGBTQIA+) set. Will Cain, a conservative Fox News host, joked that the colour-coded segregation of the new diversity toy could have been designed by David Duke, a former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

 

Marketing gay-themed products can be a boon for consumer-goods companiesor a humiliating embarrassment. In the early 1980s Swedens Absolut vodka was one of the first consumer brands to go after the gay consumer (considered a trendsetter) by advertising in LGBTQ media outlets, sponsoring events such as the Pride parade and donating to charities. LEGO, which is Danish, waited another four decades to launch Everyone is Awesome, a 346-piece set of 11 monochrome mini-figurines in the colours of the Progress Pride Flag. Brown and black figures represent ethnic diversity; pale blue, white and pink reflect the transgender banner. Each comes with an individual hairstyle but no defined gender (except for the beehive bewigged purple drag queen).

 

 

Progress Pride Flag

Description

Designed in 2018 by Graphic designer Daniel Quasar, Quasar added a five-colored chevron to the classic Rainbow Flag to place a greater emphasis on inclusion and progression. Quasars Progress Pride Flag added five arrow-shaped lines to the six-colored Rainbow Flag, which is widely recognized as the symbol of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBTQ+) community.

 

The flag includes black and brown stripes to represent marginalized LGBTQ+ communities of color, along with the colors pink, light blue and white, which are used on the Transgender Pride Flag.

 

This is new territory for us, admits Matthew Ashton, who designed the figurines as a display or statement for those aged 18 or over. (Hundreds of thousands of LEGO customers are adults.) In the past the company made a few subtle nods to gays, such as a little rainbow flag in a model of Trafalgar Square and a bride and groom sold separately. Mr Ashton initially created the set for his personal desk, but it soon attracted the attention of colleagues. He hopes it will start many conversations he wishes he could have had when growing up as a gay man in Britain in the 1980s.

 

Ian Johnson, chief executive of Out Now, a consultancy advising companies on the development of LGBTQ marketing strategies, says his initial reaction to the toys launch was dismissive. He thought LEGO was just another firm keen to make a quick buck at the start of Pride Month(); the global spending power of gay consumers is around $3.9trn annually, according to LGBT Capital, a research firm. He changed his mind once he saw how LEGO made its new product very visible by, for instance, publishing a five-minute video on its website of Mr Ashton telling the story of his teenage struggles with his sexuality at the height of the AIDS epidemic.

 

Corporate rainbow-washing can occasionally backfire. The launch in 2019 of a LGBTQ sandwich (lettuce, guacamole, bacon and tomatoes) by Marks & Spencer, a British retailer, provoked a backlash among gays enraged about being equated with a sarniesandwich. Burger King, an American chain of fast-food restaurants, triggered a similar reaction when it wrapped its whopper in rainbow-coloured foil.

 

In January last year the chief executive of Hallmark Channel, an American television network specialising in family films, had to resign after pulling ads showing a same-sex couple marrying and kissingand then reversing the decision following an outcry by consumers. This year Mondelez, a packaged-food behemoth, had to defend a British advertising campaign for its Cadbury Creme Egg in which a male gay couple passes a chocolate egg from mouth to mouth.

 

LEGO is aware of the need to tread carefully with cultural sensitivities and religious customs. The new set will not be sold in Indonesia, Kuwait, Malaysia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, where displaying a sexual identity other than straight can be unsafe (though the firm may launch it in Russia next month, despite widespread homophobia there). Ultimately it is up to local toy shops to decide which LEGO sets they sell. Few are likely to boycott the popular blocks altogether. And the toy shop in Reverend Mohlers parish can just give the new set a pass. 

 

 

VOCABULARY


thunder

thunder / nd(r) / (literary) to shout, complain, etc. very loudly and angrily

:

[V]  

He thundered against the evils of television.   

 

[V speech]  

'Sit still!' she thundered.   

""

 

evangelical

evangelical / ivndelikl /

adj. 

1. of or belonging to a Christian group that emphasizes the authority of the Bible and the importance of people being saved through faith

They're evangelical Christians.   

 

2. wanting very much to persuade people to accept your views and opinions

He delivered his speech with evangelical fervour.  

  

evangelicalism noun [U]

 

pundit

pundit / pndit / 

noun 1. a person who knows a lot about a particular subject and who often talks about it in public

SYN expert 2. = pandit 

 

queer

queer / kwi(r); NAmE kwir /

adj. (queerer, queerest)

1. (old-fashioned) strange or unusual

SYN odd 

His face was a queer pink colour.   

2. (taboo, slang) an offensive way of describing a homosexual , especially a man, which is, however, also used by some homosexuals about themselves

noun

(taboo, slang) an offensive word for a homosexual , especially a man, which is, however, also used by some homosexuals about themselves

 

segregation

segregation / segrigein / 

noun [U] 1. the act or policy of separating people of different races, religions or sexes and treating them in a different way

(),:

 racial / religious segregation   

/  

segregation by age and sex   

 

2. (formal) the act of separating people or things from a larger group

()

the segregation of smokers and non-smokers in restaurants   

 

boon

boon / bun / 

noun ~ (to / for sb) something that is very helpful and makes life easier for you

The new software will prove a boon to Internet users.   

 

monochrome

monochrome / mnkrum; NAmE mnkroum / 

adj.

1. (of photographs, etc. ) using only black, white and shades of grey

monochrome illustrations / images   

/  

(figurative) a dull monochrome life  

 


figurine

figurine / figrin; NAmE figjrin / 

noun 

a small statue of a person or an animal used as a decorative object

(), 

 

dismissive

dismissive / dismisiv /

adj. ~ (of sb / sth) showing that you do not believe a person or thing to be important or worth considering

SYN disdainful 

a dismissive gesture / tone   

/ 


backfire

backfire / bkfai(r) / 

verb [V] 

1. ~ (on sb) to have the opposite effect to the one intended, with bad or dangerous results

()

Unfortunately the plan backfired.   

, 

2. (of an engine or a vehicle ) to make a sudden noise like an explosion


backlash

backlash / bkl / 

noun [sing.] ~ (against sth) | ~ (from sb) a strong negative reaction by a large number of people, for example to sth that has recently changed in society

(),

The government is facing an angry backlash from voters over the new tax.   

 

equate

equate / ikweit / 

verb [VN]

~ sth (with sth) to think that sth is the same as sth else or is as important

Some parents equate education with exam success.   

 

I don't see how you can equate the ten things.   

 

homophobia

homophobia / hmfubi / 

noun [U]

a strong dislike and fear of homosexual people

homophobic adj. 

 


About Pride Month

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month is currently celebrated each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan. The Stonewall Uprising was a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. In the United States the last Sunday in June was initially celebrated as "Gay Pride Day," but the actual day was flexible. In major cities across the nation the "day" soon grew to encompass a month-long series of events. Today, celebrations include pride parades, picnics, parties, workshops, symposia and concerts, and LGBTQ Pride Month events attract millions of participants around the world. Memorials are held during this month for those members of the community who have been lost to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS. The purpose of the commemorative month is to recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally.

 

In 1994, a coalition of education-based organizations in the United States designated October as LGBT History Month. In 1995, a resolution passed by the General Assembly of the National Education Association included LGBT History Month within a list of commemorative months. National Coming Out Day (October 11), as well as the first "March on Washington" in 1979, are commemorated in the LGBTQ community during LGBT History Month.

 

Annual LGBTQ+ Pride Traditions

The first Pride march in New York City was held on June 28, 1970, on the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising. Primary sources available at the Library of Congress provide detailed information about how this first Pride march was planned and the reasons why activists felt so strongly that it should exist. Looking through the Lili Vincenz and Frank Kameny Papers in the Librarys Manuscript Division, researchers can find planning documents, correspondence, flyers, ephemera and more from the first Pride marches in 1970. This, the first U.S. Gay Pride Week and March, was meant to give the community a chance to gather together to "...commemorate the Christopher Street Uprisings of last summer in which thousands of homosexuals went to the streets to demonstrate against centuries of abuse ... from government hostility to employment and housing discrimination, Mafia control of Gay bars, and anti-Homosexual laws" (Christopher Street Liberation Day Committee Fliers, Franklin Kameny Papers). The concept behind the initial Pride march came from members of the Eastern Regional Conference of Homophile Organizations (ERCHO), who had been organizing an annual July 4th demonstration (1965-1969) known as the "Reminder Day Pickets," at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. At the ERCHO Conference in November 1969, the 13 homophile organizations in attendance voted to pass a resolution to organize a national annual demonstration, to be called Christopher Street Liberation Day.

 

As members of the Mattachine Society of Washington, Frank Kameny and Lilli Vincenz participated in the discussion, planning, and promotion of the first Pride along with activists in New York City and other homophile groups belonging to ERCHO.

 

By all estimates, there were three to five thousand marchers at the inaugural Pride in New York City, and today marchers in New York City number in the millions. Since 1970, LGBTQ+ people have continued to gather together in June to march with Pride and demonstrate for equal rights.

 

Watch documentary footage of the first Pride march, "Gay and Proud," a documentary by activist Lilli Vincenz:






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