At New York City Pride last weekend, the only free swag visitors coveted more than pictures of their favorite Orange Is The New Black cast members were the jazzed-up-in-rainbows paper crowns being given out over at the Burger King display tent at the festival.
Everyone wanted to be king for a day — and not just in New York, but at Prides across the nation where Burger King promoted itself and its rainbow-infused LGBT-friendly marketing initiative, doling out a total of more than 700,000 crowns.
In San Francisco, Burger King's Pride-themed push was even more savvy, however, premiering an intriguingly-named "Proud Whopper."
As part of the promotion, Burger King also filmed a special commercial starring the Whopper with groups of customers attempting to guess how, or if, the special-edition item was different.
Ultimately, the Whopper is not different from any other Burger King meat-and-cheese conglomeration, which is the point of course. The inside of the wrapper noted, "We Are All the Same Inside," a not-so-subtle, pro-LGBT equality message.
The campaign is part of larger brand shift for the fast food staple, whose popular slogan "Have It Your Way" has morphed into "Be Your Way." What is brilliant about this new message, symbolically written on a wrapper, is that it quietly promotes a more free-will brand of equality, implying that all our "hard-wiring" is the same, that we are all human and that culturally determined behaviors and self-willed actions are not inherent to our being.
Fernando Machado, a senior vice president of global branding, told TIME magazine that the commercial, as well as Burger King's sponsorship of San Francisco and New York Pride events, was emblematic of the company's commitment to social issues. "As a brand, we welcome everyone," Machado told TIME. "We felt that [the Proud Whopper] could bring to life a message of equality, self-expression, authenticity and just being who you are."
Image Credit: YouTube
This type of messaging stands in direct contrast to the actions of fellow patty purveyor Chick-fil-a, which garnered national headlines for months following the anti-same-sex marriage comments of CEO Dan Cathy.
For those of us in the LGBT community, there are waves of emotion resulting from this type of inclusion: simultaneous disgust and delight at being pandered to — knowing that these corporations just want our money, but with the realization that these corporations know the power of the "pink dollar."
But just because it's written on a wrapper doesn't mean Burger King's message doesn't hold value, on both literal and more philosophical levels. Because ultimately, true "pride" is being able to identify however one pleases.