Problematizing That Gay Oreo Ad…

GayPrideOreoKraft Foods definitely made a statement when they shared an image of a "gay pride" Oreo earlier this week.

Within 24-hours, the company's Facebook post had 177,000 likes and 22,463 comments. Some of the remarks were of course hateful — "We don't want this unhealthy sinful lifestyle flaunted," one infuriated former Oreo fan tweeted — but by and large the comments have been positive. A supportive Twitter user wrote, "Very glad to support a company like Oreo that joins the campaign for civil rights!"

And amidst conservative calls for an Oreo boycott, the company has apparently won over some new customers. "Don’t worry about them people boycotting you Oreo – I never bought a single cookie from you and now I will," a supporter declared.

But what does this ad mean with regard to a more LGBT-inclusive marketplace? Is it simply pandering? That's the question Dan Zak seems to be asking over at the Washington Post:

The rainbow-colored Oreo graphic unveiled for LGBT Pride month proves at least one thing: Gays are just as susceptible to clever marketing as straights. At long last! Equality under commercialization.

A cultural moment — galvanized politically by Barack Obama’s May endorsement of same-sex marriage — is being validated and exploited economically by big business over and over again. Earlier this month JCPenney, after enduring fringe criticism for enlisting Ellen DeGeneres as a spokeswoman in February, doubled down with a Father’s Day advertisment featuring two fathers and their children dressed in sensible shorts and bright-colored polo shirts. Last month Gap put two young gentlemen inside one snug gray T-shirt next to the words “Be One.” In March, Ben and Jerry’s released an ice cream pint called “Apple-y Ever After” whose container depicted a tuxedoed pair atop a rainbow-ribboned cake.

What’s next (besides eternal hellfire)? Probably more gay advertising.

Not that there's anything wrong with that…


  1. Simon says

    Exposing bigotry with the bible :

    Hatred is the greatest sin which goes against the greatest commandments of Christ. In the Parable of the Good Samaritan, Christ has clearly mentioned that the way to have eternal life for his followers is through his commandments to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself. He has mentioned that those laws are above all other biblical laws of any other prophets.

    Homophobes promoting hatred are antiChrist who do not believe or pretend to believe in Jesus Christ but do not acknowledge Christ’s commandments to love God and to love thy neighbor as thyself, to be the highest of all biblical laws. The antiChrist, like the devil, is a master of quoting biblical verses except those 2 top commandments of love from Christ, they avoid using Christ’s name but use other names, even ‘God’, to bring all sort of biblical verses or ‘facts’, to lie and to prove their justification to hate. AntiChrist deceive people that those 2 commandments of love were not above all laws for Christians, and they are around in many organizations pretending to be of ‘religious’ faith.

    The issue of homosexuality, same sex marriage and many other issues (sexual/non sexual) are different forms of a test of the Christian faith on that choice of who they really believe in the end, to love (Christ and His greatest commandments) or to hate (succumb to temptation of verses NOT from Christ’s greatest commandments to justify their hatred).

  2. NaughtyLola says

    All social change has come about through economics. The Civil Rights movement in the 50s started as economic boycotts, which brought the spotlight and the moral gaze of the rest of the country. Women’s Suffrage, Indian statehood, Abolition — all of this was economic at its root. Individuals may have philosophical changes, but populations change their behavior when it becomes an issue of their own best interest. Will they suffer economic fallout if continue down a path, yes or no? If yes, they change. If not, things will carry on as they are since there is no external incentive to shift. Let the industry juggernauts like GM and Nabisco do their thing, and social change will follow along in their wake.

    By they way: its the job of businesses to make money, not to be your friend. There’s no reason to be more cynical about this than any other marketing scheme as their respective biz-dev teams identify new markets. The LGBT population is as exploitable as any other population. Egalitarianism at its capitalistic finest. Relish it.

  3. Michael W. says

    Somehow I don’t think too many fat, self-righteous, christian jackasses are going to give up their oreos.

  4. Blake says

    Who cares if it’s just pandering? It’s about time people pandered to us! It’s time for companies, and politicians, and other organizations to realize that we are not just a “given”, that they do have to work for our business/votes/donations. I think the recent corporate panderings are great because they really show a sea-shift in the way the LGBT community is viewed.

  5. endo says

    Pandering looks delicious!

    Good luck to the fundies if they start a boycott. Kraft owns about half the food industry.

  6. DCer says

    It’s only pandering if I eat the cookies. Which I don’t and this won’t make me. What it does do is adds to the chorus of voices that say, gay is okay. Which slowly changes perceptions, attitudes, and society for the better. If we’re susceptible to that, good.

  7. Rob says

    Let them pander. Let them exploit. The unstated message of ads of this type is “gays have money, being pro-gay is good for business.” It emphasizes that we are a much more important demographic than those moms who can’t count (“10 -20 -uhh 40-eleven – a hunnerd – oh, call it a million, that sounds good”) and the increasingly frantic religious wingnuts who are starting to make the Taliban seem reasonable and forward thinking.

    We will never win over the core crazies, but they will become increasingly isolated and diminished as we become an increasingly recognized and increasingly needed component of the economy.

  8. Hue-Man says

    You mean pandering like the entire advertising industry does when they show ONLY hetero families climbing into that new Dodge Caravan or Mom and Dad serving up a bowl of cereal to junior? (Don’t get me started on the straights-only ED drug ads.) Get over it – the message is for customers and employees and I don’t mind if they sell more cookies as a by-product.

  9. terry says

    Don’t be hating the cookie! It was born that way. Unfortunately for the cookie things won’t get better, not if milk is nearby.

  10. JAMES in Toronto says

    Personally, I like the cookie. It was clever, totally unexpected, and from a company that totally surprised me.

    I don’t feel that it was pandering. I think it was diabolic cleverness at work.

    …and I may have to buy a box of Oreos, and salute them with a glass of (chocolate) milk.

    Now… really clever? They should make it, and market it for a limited run. HAH!

  11. JJ says

    Depends on where they spend their political dollars. If they want to take our money and then turn around and give it to our GOP enemies, then it’s a cynical, pandering lie. If not, then they’ve lent a memorable and gutsy icon to our cause.

  12. TJ says

    The problem isn’t that companies are trying to reach out to LGBT customers; it’s that this kind of pandering encourages people to substitute consumer choices for real political action. Yes, in a superficial way, any positive representations of LGBT people promote social acceptability and are a form of progress. But when the popularity of positive LGBT representaions (e.g. thousands of people “liking” Oreos) doesn’t translate into concrete political actions, it’s just a way for people to feel good about themselves while creating free buzz for the company. Lots of people might say, “So what? They deserve it.” But I think it’s troubling that we feel compelled to participate in this outsized corporate influence. It shouldn’t be up to Kraft–or any other corporation–to legitimize any group or help decide who deserves what rights. And for people arguing this is just “the way it works” — I thought the gay rights movement is supposed to be all about challenging the status quo. Anyway, when people continue to provide free advertising for any company that brands itself as “pro-gay,” they should also investigate how those companies are their new queer dollars in other arenas — it’s not always pretty.

  13. Alan says

    I think they should market these. Not with that many layers, but one color at a time in a mixed box. No flavor changes, just colors. Kids would love them.

  14. bcarter3 says

    “…it’s that this kind of pandering encourages people to substitute consumer choices for real political action.”

    Yeah. Why just today, I had to decide whether to eat an Oreo or picket the Supreme Court. It was obviously impossible to do both.

    I ate the Oreo. And I didn’t even “investigate how those companies are [sic] their new queer dollars in other arenas.”

  15. Jonathan says

    If pandering is a 100% score on the HRC equality index, I say let’s keep the pandering coming. It’s not about pursuing political change, it’s about rewarding good corporate citizenship. (as one commenter already pointed out, they’re not mutually exclusive). Now if Exxon/Mobil tried to pull something like this, we’d have something to talk about. Kraft is just highlighting it’s corporate message and mission with a cute picture. Good on them.

  16. TJ says

    I didn’t say it was impossible to make ethical consumer choices and also take concrete political action. I said there seems to be a general tendency among advertisers and the general public to blur the distinction between those two things. Most people don’t do both actions; they just do the easier one, which is understandable yet probably counterproductive in the bigger scheme of things. That’s my opinion. Thanks for offering an interesting and respectful counter-viewpoint. [sic]

  17. Mary says

    TJ, I guess one’s opinion here would depend on which realm he considers more powerful, the cultural or the political. It’s the classic chicken and egg question because politics influences the culture (i.e. commerical decisions) but the culture also influences politics. But you raised an interesting point about people tending to concentrate on one over the other. I understand where you’re coming from on this.

  18. says

    Thay washington post column seems homophobic. Straight people, latinos, black people allll have commercials dedicated to them as do older people, younger Justin Bieber fans to get that demographic… All demographics do and YES it is our time to finally be recognized by these companies. Anyone who has a problem with that needs to examine why they feel gays should not be acknowledged in advertising while everyone else is? ……?

  19. gregory brown says

    I wonder if the Usual suspects among H8rs would be all inflamed if some fudge manufacturer came out to play in the queer money pit?

  20. Mary says

    “Mary, please remove yourself.”

    Lance, I’m assuming this was directed at me. Why do you want me to remove myself from Towleroad? I wasn’t even being critical of TJ in what I posted.

  21. Bread says

    If you take a look at Oreo’s page, you see pictures for the Tour de France and other current events. So it might not be as much pandering to gays, as it is pointing out a current event (the pride parades).

  22. Bread says

    If you take a look at Oreo’s page, you see pictures for the Tour de France and other current events. So it might not be as much pandering to gays, as it is pointing out a current event (the pride parades).