Brands often miss the mark when it comes to Pride Month. It’s pretty unimpressive when a corporation slaps some rainbows on its packaging in June but does little else to foster the acceptance and representation of LGBTQIA+ people. This year, Skittles is setting out to put its money where its rainbow flag is.
The brand enlisted six LGBTQIA+ artists artists to design five limited edition packages in honor of Pride Month. For every Skittles Pride Pack that’s purchased, Skittles donates $1 to GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation). I got the chance to speak with one of the artists who worked on this project, Meg Emiko (they/them), about their experience designing for Skittles and how brands can do better when June rolls around—and all year long.
What is your artistic background?
I grew up with my parents and grandma really encouraging me to express myself creatively. I was a really shy and quiet kid, so doing art was a way for me to feel free to be me in a safe space. I took lots of art classes growing up, and my grandma was an artist who taught me a lot of what I know and love today.
What do you think Skittles did right when it comes to marketing products for Pride?
With Skittles marketing their products for Pride, they’ve taken an approach that not many other companies take, which is, one, working with actual LGBTQIA+ and QTBIPOC [Queer, Trans, Black, Indigenous People of Color] artists, and, two, really doing everything they can to amplify and uplift all of our voices by taking the time to ask us thoughtful interview questions and allowing us the creative freedom to really truly express ourselves. This stood out to me because, in the past, I’ve worked with companies who say they want me to create something for Pride, but the second I start talking about anti-trans legislation or QTBIPOC, they shut it down. It’s so important for companies to not just work with LGBTQIA+ and QTBIPOC folks during Pride, but really all year round, and if they do decide to do something for Pride, making sure that the main goal is to help amplify and uplift QTBIPOC voices while taking real action against LGBTQIA+ discrimination.
How did you design your packaging?
I came up with my design for Skittles through my main goal of wanting as many LGBTQIA+ folks to feel seen, heard, represented, and loved. I know that although I couldn’t fit all of the LGBTQIA+ flags into the design, I wanted to include as many as possible because everyone deserves to see themselves represented out in the world.
What could companies do better when it comes to selling Pride-themed products?
When any company decides to do some sort of Pride campaign or starts selling any sort of Pride-related products, it’s important that they know that they are not in a place to be profiting off of the LGBTQIA+ community. Companies need to make sure that their LGBTQIA+ activism and work takes place all year round, 365 days a year. Along with this, they should always find ways to take some sort of action to help support the LGBTQIA+ community and especially QTBIPOC. Most of these big companies not only have so much money and funding, but they also have a huge audience and platform that they can and should be used to spread more awareness about issues like anti-trans bills and anti-QTBIPOC violence. Performative activism does nothing and there must be some sort of action plan attached to all Pride-related campaigns and products by these big companies.
What is always in your grocery cart when you get shopping?
Flamin’ Hot Cheetos!