Over the past few decades, Pride celebrations have grown into more than just a celebration of awareness. It has become more than just a parade for the LQBTQ+ community. Pride has become a part of life in most countries around the world, and not just amongst members of the LQBTQ+ community. Nowadays, more than ever, friends, families, and strangers all show their support and get involved. As the crowds for these events grew larger, so did the opportunity to commercialize and profit from them. "Merchandising, it's where the real money is." Every year, millions of people celebrate in the largest cities around the world, and every year, companies all over the world prepare Pride merchandise to sell to those people. Some of the merch is pretty good, but some of it misses the mark. Here's a look at the good, the bad, and the fabulous of what "Pride Month Merch Mania" has to offer.
1. "Always Read The Fine Print"
Some of the best items to be found during Pride Month Merch Mania are the ones that have a sense of humor to them. If we take life too seriously, we'll never get out alive.
These shirts would most certainly deter anyone away from starting any trouble. Those who would be offended by this guy's sexuality, probably, wouldn't have the attention spans to read the fine print.
2. "Rainbow-Scented Breath"
Every June, companies spend millions of dollars on putting their products into rainbow-colored packaging.
If the people at Listerine were hoping that customers would see this bottle and think, "WOW! I need a Pride-colored bottle of mouthwash", they might be in for a rude awakening. Mouthwash is not something people go out and buy unless they need it. No one needs a novelty bottle of Listerine.
3. "Hypocritical Stance"
In recent years, billion-dollar tech companies, that do not have physical merchandise of their own to sell, have "Pridified" their websites and company logos in order to show solidarity with whichever event or issue is currently in the spotlight.
Normally I would have no problem with a company like YouTube changing the color of its homepage and emoticon in support of Pride, however, by refusing to remove a video of a homophobic rant from its platform, YouTube is giving the impression that it is OK with homophobia and "queer-bashing".
4. "To Dye For"
In order to enter a quality product into Pride Month Merch Mania, whenever possible, it is important to focus on nostalgic items. Tugging at the heart leads to the opening of the wallet.
This baggy tie-dye Pride sweater is an outstanding throwback to when tie-dye was part of daily fashion and not just a retro novelty item.
Every June, an invisible force sweeps across the globe and turns all of our food technicolored. Then, before anyone knows what happened, BLAMMO, our food is back to normal.
The top brass over at Doritos has outdone themselves again. The vibrancy in the color of the chips is unmatched by other crunchy treats of a similar variety. The only thing missing from these Rainbow Doritos is a different flavor for each colored chip.
6. "Taste The Rainbow"
Many of the outfits that people wear to Pride events are great in their own way, but only a truly great Pride outfit can be worn with pride all year round.
This is just an amazing addition to anyone's wardrobe. It's bright, it's stylish, it looks like it breathes well, what else could someone be looking for in an outfit?
7. "How'd They Know It Was There?"
When traveling or attending a large event, a bodypack is a great item to bring along in order to keep all of one's important personal belongings safe. That is, of course, if no one else knows it's there.
If people are trying to protect their valuables, they probably shouldn't be drawing attention to them by placing them in a bright rainbow-colored pack.
8. "Clownin' Around"
These days, Pride events have become beyond ridiculous in size. Some cities have hundreds of thousands of people in attendance. With so many people in attendance, companies are more concerned about missing the money train than they are about putting out a sub-par product.
Dr. Martens definitely missed the mark a bit here, as their intention was probably a bit more money-driven than it was heartfelt. These look like rainbow-colored clown shoes. Frankly, it's a little unnerving.
9. "Smells Like...Teen Spirit?"
Companies are constantly attempting to imprint their names and likenesses on social and political movements. All that's needed is one product making it big in order for a company to become the face of a movement. It's not very often, however, that companies attempt to become the scent of a movement.
Ambercrombie & Fitch's "Fierce" is the cologne that wants its users to know that it doesn't matter what their faces look like as long as they have somewhat chiseled abs. With a name like "Fierce", I wouldn't expect anything less pungent than a milder version of "Sex Panther" (as made famous by "Anchorman").
10. "Right On Time"
For years, Apple has been one step ahead of the completion. Not just in their product's innovation, but in the company's socio-political stances as well.
Apple's Pride watch hits every note just right. The design and execution of the product are both appealing and distracting. This is the Rainbow Road of watches. This is what Dr. Marten should have aimed for with its shoe.
11. "Getting Sacked"
Companies with great marketing campaigns have figured out a way for customers to know their brand without even seeing the company name. Nike has the "swoosh", McDonald's has the "Golden Arches", and IKEA has its giant yellow and blue bag.
The Pride flag IKEA bag makes a fantastic beach bag, however, it's now just like every other bag. Considering how many other products IKEA had to choose from, it's just a little disappointing that they settled on "Pridifying" the bag.
Looking for the perfect pair of shoes that not only look great but feel great as well? Forget about those rainbow-striped Dr. Martens, because Vans has the answer.
These Pride-pixelled Vans, are perfect for anyone who needs to get in or out of their shoes in a hurry. Vans are also known for their comfort, so these shoes are bound to keep anyone's feet feeling fresh all month long.
13. "Watch The Dosage"
Since many states have already legalized cannabis, and it being only a matter of time before federal legalization is approved, cannabis companies are producing a wider variety of items than anyone thought possible, and even they have put out a line of Pride products.
One of the benefits of selling cannabis-infused items is that they can be marketed to promote pretty much anything, and they'd still sell. Rainbow sherbert flavored gummies are the cause and solution to the munchies that Pride celebrators are likely to experience.
14. "Reaching For The Top"
It gets pretty loud in a crowd of tens of thousands of people. In order to remedy the lack of audio conversation present, other means of communication have been developed.
Sure, it takes away some of the mystery, but sometimes people just want to cut out all the subtext and get right to the point.
15. "Take A Step Back To Get The Whole Picture"
When it comes to Merch Mania, most companies aim to make their products as bright and flamboyant as possible. The idea is that the more attention-grabbing something is, the better it will sell in stores. But that's not always the case...
The company that makes "bubly" drinks stuck with the old motto of "less is more", even during Pride. Instead of a rainbow-colored can for their Pride product line, the company opted for 6 solid-colored cans that when placed together form the Pride flag.
Legendary comedian George Carlin first introduced the world to the "7 words you can never say on television" in 1972. Forty-five years later, the president of the United States introduced the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to the 7 words that they were prohibited from using in official documents.
Banning the use of certain words that might cause controversy will inevitably only end in even more controversy.
17. "Perception Is Everything"
It's obvious from some pieces of Pride clothing that companies don't really care what message they are getting out, as long as their product for Merch Mania has, at least, one of the key SEO words.
More often than not, people don't want to discuss "their pronouns" on a regular basis. Shirts like this negate the equality movement by amplifying the negative perception that people who belong to specific communities are different.
18. "Try Hard"
Almost anything that relates to food usually turns out poorly when given a Pride twist. With that in mind, there are some businesses that should stick to what they know instead of trying to get involved.
When creating a meal that is based around a theme, one must ask themselves if they would eat the new creation on any given day or if they just created the merch to feel involved?
19. "Time To Accessorize"
When it comes to the mobile phone industry, it is the accessories and not the phones that are the big moneymakers. Companies have come up with countless useless products that seem to be getting more and more absurd as the industry grows.
This Pride-themed phone pouch is an excellent example of a Pride month merchandise failure as it does not have many, if any, redeeming qualities.
20. "Shape Of My Heart"
Restaurants and bakeries have also been joining in the month-long celebration lately. Some restaurants modify their menus for the month of June, while bakers whip up their best renditions of delightful rainbow-colored sweets.
This Pride cookie looks delicious. The only thing that could make it better would be if it were red velvet and there was a cream cheese filling.
21. "Gonna Make A Difference"
So many of the messages that are on the clothing that gets produced for Pride Month Merch Mania are meant to deliver a political message of some kind. It is always quite refreshing when companies do what they can to keep things light-hearted and away from the political spectrum.
This shirt is almost perfect, it's just missing a bit of pizazz. Some glitter or rhinestones would have rounded it out perfectly and given it the look of one of Michael's gloves.
22. "Say It How It Is"
Now, here is an item that everyone could get behind. Whether we drink coffee or not, a mug is always a practical gift.
No other message in this list is as important and accurate as of the one that can be found on this mug. If everyone were to go into situations with an open mind and an open heart, there would be a lot more understanding and a lot less hate in the world.
23. "Spice World"
Stumbling across Pride-related kitchen accessories does not happen every day. That's why when someone is given the opportunity to spice up their kitchen's appearance, they should not let it slip away.
This spice rack is amazing. It has the power to brighten up any kitchen but is modest enough that it doesn't steal the attention of the room.
24. "Nothing To See Here..."
Some places do not have any shame when it comes to promoting merchandise. Although Pride Month Merch Mania has become a worldwide phenomenon, there are still some places that one would expect, would not be celebrating with the rest of the world.
Finding a Pride-themed teddy bear at one of the world's most notorious prisons is rather unexpected, but not as unexpected as a gift shop at Guantanamo Bay.
25. "To Infinity And Beyond"
Some companies will go to whatever lengths are necessary in order to make a buck or two, no matter who might get hurt along the way.
I hope that Bo-Peep knew about this before the button came out. If not, that poor shepherdess will be devastated.
26. "Tea For Two...Two For Tea"
Even DAVIDsTEA made an attempt at Pride merchandising. I know what everyone's thinking, "how could a tea company join Pride merch mania"?
Well, I didn't say that it blew away the critics with its entry. Rainbow lemonade was the tea company's ill-fated attempt at joining the Pride party. A rainbow flag on the side of its regular teas would probably have made a bigger impact.
27. "Jurassic Purse"
In order to let it be known that they support Pride month and everything that corresponds with it, some companies have simply slapped a rainbow-colored image onto their products.
This just seems a little lazy. The dinosaur doesn't quite seem like it's meant to be there, and the bag itself looks like it could possibly be made out of dinosaur skin. PETA should have a look into this one.
28. "Dark, Salty, And Full Of Nuts"
For every company that has a hit during Pride Month Merch Mania, there are hundreds of others that don't quite get the recognition their creators were hoping for upon inception.
"Kind" bars are a fantastic snack for those who are on the go and don't have time to eat breakfast or pack a lunch. If someone were to buy these, it would not be due to the adjusted packaging. In fact, the adjustments are so tame that if I wasn't searching for Pride-specific products, I would have missed it.
29. "High Visibility"
When searching for clothing to wear to the evening's Pride party, it's best to pick out something that makes it easier to be found in a large crowd. If it breathes well, that's even better.
This rainbow-colored glow-in-the-dark disco sports bra is simply fantastic. Not only is it great to wear to all the Pride events but, due to the glowing colors, it would also be a great outfit to wear if exercising outside at night.
30. "Loud And Proud"
There are more than a few merch mania items that are so terrible that they somehow have become great again...ones that are so cringeworthy we just can't look away.
The best thing about this button is that after seeing the list of words on the shirt on the 16th item on this list, one can only assume that the White House did not give its approval of this button's marketing strategy.
31. "Looking Suave"
There are some Pride month merch items that are so great that they are re-used at future Pride events.
This pin has a sharp and exclusive look to it. Although the writing is rather small, the shape and contrasting colors draw one closer to inquire as to what the text is. The real money would be in remarketing these as cufflinks.
32. "For All You Do, This Bud's For You"
Throughout most of the past century, people have related beer with sports. After a clever marketing campaign that promoted inclusivity and acceptance, one American beer company is letting people know what most of us have known for a while. Beer is a beverage for all occasions.
Instead of creating a beer glass with the typical rainbow-colored Pride flag, Budweiser put out an entire line of pint glasses, each representing a different micro-Pride community. Budweiser doesn't just want to be the "King of Beers", it's aiming to be the "King of Queers".
33. "The C*** Glock"
Pride Month Merch Mania is no place for products that can be used to kill or otherwise harm anyone.
The only thing that this product promotes, is violence. Those colors have no place on any kind of weapon. Love is not violence and war, love is love.
34. "Doing A 360"
The "Console War" has been raging continuously for a few decades now. Each company is constantly trying to stay ahead of the competition by appealing to as many customer bases as possible.
In 2016, Xbox released a limited edition Pride controller. Considering how much effort goes into controllers for games like "Call of Duty", I would have expected a bit better effort from Microsoft. Surely, this controller should be a bit flashier.
35. "Snap, Crackle, and Popping Their Way To Pride"
There are not many breakfast cereal companies that join in on the annual madness that is Merch Mania. One company, however, wanted to send a message of inclusivity to the world.
Never before seen together on one box, all of Kellogg's big-time talent somehow found the time in their busy schedules to join together and send the message that love is love.
36. "Twist Slowly And Lift"
One company that is usually a frontrunner when it comes to social issues is Oreo. With a name as known as theirs, and a product as delicious, there was never a doubt that Oreo would join Merch Mania.
...And join they did. Oreo has been experimenting with different flavors and colors of icing for decades. All that's left to do is to remove the icing out of all the cookies and make one giant rainbow-colored icing-filled Oreo.
37. "Standing Out To Stand Together"
In recent years, professional sports leagues around the world have been merchandising Pride gear as a sign that the league and its players are accepting of everyone. But one player, in particular, made their own statement.
The Washington National's pitcher Sean Doolittle used a custom-designed rainbow-colored baseball mitt, that his sponsor made, in-game. The glove was such a hit that the sporting goods company that made it, Wilson, ended up producing a line of these gloves, and they look amazing!
38. "He's For Him, Not You"
The hypocrisy of some people is simply unbelievable, but when the chance to make a profit presents itself, the opportunists are always lurking in wait.
The people buying these shirts might be LGBTQ for Trump, but remember, Trump is not for LGBTQ. Let's not forget that the previous administration put a ban on the transgender community from joining the United States military.
39. "I Tip My Cap To You"
The professional sports leagues have long been stereotyped as a place for "manly men", however, in recent years people have finally begun to realize that professional sports are for talented athletes, no matter what their sexual orientation is.
All of the major North American sports leagues now celebrate Pride with pride. As a result, more and more LGBTQ+ youths have been joining organized sports. There have even been a handful of professional athletes who have set their fears of being discriminated against aside, and have come out publicly. For the most part, it's been to a very accepting reception.
Many of the biggest companies in the world throw their hat in the ring every year in hopes of developing THE perfect Pride Month Merch Mania product. Although the perfect item doesn't exist, it was Tesco, surprisingly, that put in one of the best entries in recent years.
Finally, a large company that understands what Pride is about. Tesco's brand name is not visible anywhere on this shirt (although I'm pretty sure it is on the label). They should be bursting with pride after absolutely nailing the idea behind Merch Mania. This shirt truly is for everyone.