On Monday, Oreo came out in support of gay rights by posting an Oreo cookie with rainbow-colored filling on its Facebook page. Oreo, a Kraft brand, is the latest of several high-profile companies to publicly ally with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) causes.
As of this posting, the rainbow cookie has received 230,579 "likes", has been shared 70,988 times, and has over 39,000 comments. Reactions to Oreo's gay pride range from declarations of support ("Yay Oreo! Now I will be a cookie monster with a cause"; "Thank you for supporting equality for ALL persons" ) to expressions of displeasure ("Wow Oreo I had no idea well I guess we'll be taking you off our shopping list indefinitely"; "Yet another liberal company destroying our religious values and teaching immorality").
Despite the fact that the photo was posted two days ago, it is still generating a constant stream of comments, demonstrating the contentious nature of gay rights on a national level.
Companies have also been increasingly publicizing their support for gay causes by sponsoring gay pride events across the country. Absolut Vodka, Zipcar, Google, Coca-Cola, Wells Fargo, AT&T, Whole Foods, and Walgreens have all supported pride festivals this June, which is national Gay Pride Month.
As U.S. News's Danielle Kurtzleben reported, companies see valuable business opportunities in supporting gay causes:
"Nobody sinks multiple thousands of dollars into a festival on an investment without an expectation on return," says Amy Drayer, vice president of strategic initiatives with the GLBT Community Center of Colorado, which produces Denver PrideFest.
"We've seen parallel growth between our sponsorship program and attendance," she says, and she adds that this parallel growth may not necessarily reflect that companies are becoming more LGBT-friendly. Rather, companies likely see dollar signs when they see packed streets at the local Gay Pride parade. "A larger festival is a better investment for a national company."
Despite these obvious business advantages, some believe companies shouldn't insert themselves into political conversations. One commenter on Oreo's Facebook page wrote:
What in the world does a cookie have to do with sex? Do food companies really have to weigh in on political issues? Can we get a comment from Oreo on abortion? How about Obama's re-election campaign? Our Iranian foreign policy?
Michael Jordan once said he didn't weigh in on politics because, "Republicans buy shoes too." You might consider that next time you let your marketing team run with the first idea pitched at the meeting, Kraft Foods.
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- Read the U.S. News Debate: Will Obama's Support of Gay Marriage Help Him Politically?
- Pentagon Holds Gay Pride Event
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