Castle Lager has become the latest consumer brand to publicly affirm its support for Gauteng’s LGBTQ Pride season, but who stands to win?
The iconic SAB beer, in a traditionally conservative and ‘macho’ product category, has been running a campaign called #SmashTheLabel that aims to highlight the labels that divide South Africans.
The cheeky campaign uses a series of stereotypical characters in the ads who assert that they are “more than that.” The campaign has also included the company selling beer bottles stripped of their labels.
One of the stereotypes featured in the ad campaign is “stabane,” a derogatory term for gay people. It’s worth noting that compared to most of the other labels used in the ads (like “jock” and “cougar”), this one carries the very real risk of deadly consequences.
On Monday, the company posted a standalone clip on its Facebook page featuring the “stabane” character in a township, complete with shots of exploding mirrorballs. He says to the camera defiantly, “You call me stabane… I’m more than that.”
The post was accompanied by a comment from the company: “Cheers to a more united and inclusive Mzansi! #SmashTheLabel this Pride week. How will you be showing your support this Pride week?”
It’s part of a still very small but growing trend among local companies to celebrate the LGBTQ community as part of South Africa’s diverse makeup. Over the last two years, for example, Starbucks South Africa has run in-store campaigns in some of its branches in support of Pretoria Pride and Johannesburg Pride.
While these moves are welcomed by many in the LGBTQ community as helping to give much-needed visibility to sexually and gender diverse South Africans, questions have also been asked.
How substantial are these initiatives and to what extent do these companies really engage with the LGBTQ community? Do they spend money in the LGBTQ media, put funding into Pride events, and ensure inclusive and welcoming workplaces?
Are we being used to give these brands a veneer of being edgy, trendy and progressive, or do we all benefit equally?