Beer and St. Patrick’s Day go together like peanut butter and jelly. But some beer companies are breaking up this happy pairing because of the anti-LGBT policy associated with the holiday’s big events. On Friday, Heineken announced that they were pulling their sponsorship of the St. Patrick’s Day parade taking place today at 11am in New York City (it says it’s the world’s largest and oldest parade). And the makers of Sam Adams, the Boston Beer Company, said it was done with the South Boston parade.
Now we have word that Guinness is also pulling its sponsorship of the New York parade. This after the iconic bar Stonewall Inn said it wouldn’t sell the beer for St. Patty’s because of its support.
The City Council and Mayor Bill de Blasio also said they wouldn’t be participating because of the policy.
Guinness released the following statement about the move:
“Guinness has a strong history of supporting diversity and being an advocate for equality for all. We were hopeful that the policy of exclusion would be reversed for this year’s parade. As this has not come to pass, Guinness has withdrawn its participation. We will continue to work with community leaders to ensure that future parades have an inclusionary policy.”
The parade will have to address this policy head on, if not in the wake of this year’s parade, then definitely for next year. Sooner might be better than later given the media coverage this latest cancellation is getting.
More than that, this should serve as a further wake up call to organizations, brands, and even governments that continue to separate and discriminate against the LGBT community.
Ad Age published a story last week about the number of brands that are recognizing greater diversity. The includes racial diversity as well as diversity in sexual orientation. Brands like Cheerios, Banana Republic and Honey Maid are marketing directly to these diverse audiences, putting them front and center in their marketing campaigns.
These brands can see the writing on the wall. And the message is dollar signs. Besides letting consumers know that they’re inclusive, they recognize the changing demographics in the US, which includes a 28 percent rise in the number of heterosexual interracial couples (to 5.4 million) and a nine percent rise in same-sex couples, to 646,000. There are growing money-making opportunities as the shift continues.
The Ad Age article also points out the impact that pressure from businesses and financial institutions had on Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona who killed a bill that would’ve made it legal to discriminate against gay couples and others in her state.
Any groups that don’t recognize that the times are a-changin’ are going to face not just the loss of investment but a loss of reputation.