Seven brands taking a marriage equality stand

Ruth Callaghan

Ruth Callaghan 13 Sep 2017
3 mins

How do brands walk the line between supporting employees and diversity and not wandering into political fire? Ruth Callaghan looks at seven brands finding their feet in the marriage equality debate.


The postal survey on marriage equality is risky for everyone. For the community, it’s opened the door to being asked to vote on rights for one segment of the population.

For the Federal Government, it has mobilised hundreds of thousands of cross-party voters into a single opposing voice.

And for brands it’s posed a choice — do you ignore the vote and risk being seen as uncaring? Take one side and risk alienating the other?

The answer for many businesses, big and small, has been to go hard with the Yes vote, for a combination of reasons.

There are business owners who value diversity, who have employees affected by the vote, and who believe in the marriage equality cause. And there are others who, perhaps seeing the outpouring of support on the streets and on social media, calculate that it’s better commercially to be on the right side of history.

But there are risks here as well. Just as Pepsi was slammed for its ill-conceived “give the riot cops a Pepsi” campaign, while Microsoft was lauded for its stand on defending young Latino immigrants against deportation, authenticity is king.

Here are seven brands who have stepped up in the marriage equality campaign and nailed their rainbow colours to the mast.

Coca Cola

Coke has not only updated its standard red cans with rainbows to make its feelings clear, it has redone a major billboard in Sydney with the Vote Yes message. Inevitably a corporation of its size and history will attract some cynicism, but it is a big statement in an iconic home for equal rights.


Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has significant skin in the game, personally donating $1 million to the Yes campaign. His planes tell the story — with rainbow lettering and major signage in airports. Its prompted some No voters to threaten a boycott, but with the share price at a year high, it’s unlikely this will trouble the company’s shareholders.


The bank has copped criticism from conservative MPs for its strong stand, with Immigration Minister Peter Dutton telling it and other firms to “stick to their knitting”. Knitting turns out to be just one of the crafts in the bank’s tool kit, along with glitter and feather boa art.


Muted but still effective, Mastercard has made a simple statement in favour of Yes, while cunningly sneaking in its key branding message.


The consultancy giant takes a strong stand for diversity in its workforce, and is getting that message out on its social channels as well. Its call is clear — EY’s people and clients support marriage equality, and as a responsible employer it does too.

Your local
It’s not just big business getting on board, small businesses across the country are taking a local stand. Here are just a few of the thousands sharing their position with customers.

YES! Love is Love 🌈💕 #yes #marriageequality #counter #countertakeout #northmelbourne #auctionrooms

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Thanks for the support @gelatomessina! (We mean the new rainbow sign celebrating #marriageequality, not the gelato, which we are also thankful for.)

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Ruth Callaghan is Cannings Purple’s Chief Innovation Officer, a futurist and a leading media strategist with more than 20 years’ experience in corporate communications and journalism. Contact Ruth

Ruth Callaghan More from author

Ruth uses two decades of experience as a media strategist, communications adviser and journalist to develop, deliver and distribute messages that cut through.

She specialises in providing strategic digital and content services for clients, using the principles of newsworthy and engaging content to tell compelling stories. She is a skilled media trainer and works with professionals both within and outside the communications industry to develop their digital, writing and media skills.

Ruth’s work in this field has included developing digital and inbound marketing strategies for clients, including use of lead generation software, content marketing and social media. She works with emerging technologies including virtual reality in campaigns and continues to write for publications including the Australian Financial Review.

When not distracted by the next shiny digital tool, Ruth likes to holiday in cooler climates with her family or hang out with her stubborn Scottish Terrier Maisie.

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