It's safe to say that Kraft's rainbow Oreo has accomplished just what the company hoped it would – a good dose of pretty cheap advertising with limited repercussions.
This week, the company posted on Facebook a picture of its famous Oreo cookie with six layers of rainbow colours replacing the trademark white centre. The advertisement was accompanied by the date June 25 and the word Pride, a recognition of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender events being held this week.
Kraft's is the latest move in pro-gay marketing by major corporations. Last month, the Gap ran an advertisement with two men inside a T-shirt and the tagline: Be One. Ben & Jerry's released an ice cream flavour called Apple-y Ever After, with a container showing a rainbow cake and two grooms on the top of it.
And earlier this year, JC Penney stood firmly behind its new spokeswoman Ellen DeGeneres, despite being denounced by right-wing groups such as One Million Moms.
This clever advertising is no doubt, as the Washington Post observed, just the beginning of a growing marketing trend. While the Oreo cookie has prompted more than 20,000 comments on Facebook (and more than 150,000 likes), most of them have been positive, and the negative ones – along the lines of "I will never buy your cookies again" – have the feeling of empty threats. As Think Progress points out, a few comments don't make a boycott.
Instead, Kraft looks trendy, giving a boost to an old-fashioned product, as the Post story reports, and appeals to liberal and gay shoppers alike. And if those anti-gay parents are in the grocery store with their kids, are they really going to tell little Johnny that he can't have his favourite cookie because of a few layers of rainbow icing? (But in case you thought that cookie looked yummy, you can't buy it – it's just for show.) "We are excited to illustrate what is making history today in a fun and playful way," says Basil Maglaris, associate director of corporate affairs for Kraft, in an e-mail that toes the company's sunny line. "Kraft Foods has a proud history of celebrating diversity and inclusiveness. We feel the Oreo ad is a fun reflection of our values. There has been a lot of buzz about the image, and it shows how relevant Oreo is to people even after 100 years."
Not to say that the Oreo cookie isn't relevant to children (and childhood memories) across North America, but Facebook especially lends itself to this kind of "buzz," with everyone looking for a place to leave their opinion and to feel good about doing so.
But there's also no way Kraft would have considered a rainbow Oreo even a few years ago, so that's progress. And the more gay-friendly advertising adopted by big corporations, the less controversial it inevitably comes.
So while it certainly won't make advertisers happy, perhaps we can imagine one day soon when a rainbow cookie for Pride Week is as been-there-done-that as any other holiday ad, and we can all find something else to chatter about on Facebook.