Marketing the Rainbow


Campari is an Italian company active since 1860 in the branded beverage industry. It produces spirits, wines, and soft drinks. From its signature product, Campari Bitter, its portfolio has extended to include over 50 brands, including Aperol, Appleton, Campari, Cinzano, SKYY Vodka and Wild Turkey.

An early start

Already back in 1999 Campari created two LGBT ads with a twist.

In Red Passion a woman is seen leaving a bar by walking up the large, center staircase. A man at the bar catches her glance, but she soon turns and continues walking her way. The man immediately leaves the bar and begins to follow her. She always seems to be two steps ahead of him, until he finally turns a corner and literally runs into her. The man's drink spills all over the front of the woman's dress. The woman then removes the knot holding her halter dress up, displaying a bare chest that reveals she is really a man. He wipes the lipstick from his face. The man smirks and opens his shirt, exposing bandages around his chest, used to diminish the appearance of his breasts - because he is actually a woman. She lets down her long hair. An announcer says, "Campari. Red Passion" as the same words appear on screen.

Adulterous Scratches

In a similarly brooding one called Adulterous Scratches, a mysteriously androgynous woman makes a red carpet entrance into in lushly decorated Lempicka lobby full of smartly dressed patrons. She takes her seat and stares arrogantly at a man across the room while tapping her sharp fingernails against a glass of Campari. From the other side of the room, a blonde woman (presumably the man's girlfriend) notices the stare and marches over to the man, exposing scratch marks on his throat. She throws a drink in his face and marches over to confront the adulteress. But once they’re face-to-face, she exposes her own set of scratch marks running down her back. Is the smug woman her lover, and has she cheated on the blonde with a man? Did the smug woman have a fling with the man and his blonde girlfriend, who is jealous of both of them? We will never know... Unfortunately, the association of bisexuals with confusion and sexual infidelity is one of the oldest and most persistent stereotypes facing the bisexual community. So for all its style and sexiness, the ad ultimately perpetuates a negative image of bisexual people as "equal-opportunity offenders".

Article last updated on Nov 17, 2020

Another brand in the Campari family, SKYY vodka, has been more active in Marketing the Rainbow over the years. Check out the separate case study.

Case study: Campari

Branche: fmcg