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Marketing the Rainbow

This article was last updated on Nov 6, 2022

Magnum: Pleasure is diverse - 2017

"There is more pleasure in a diverse world." With this slogan, Unilever's Magnum produced a special edition rainbow ice cream for Pride New York in 2017 - and again in 2018. They collaborated with Laverne Cox and proceeds of the campaign went to GLAAD.


Unilever owns over 400 brands and had a turnover in 2020 of 51 billion euros. The company has done some corporate and multi-brand campaigns for Marketing the Rainbow, but the individual brands also had their own campaigns. Here is a look at the ice cream brands Magnum, Cornetto, Gaytime, Kingis and Klondike. 


Unexpected love - 2019, Thailand

Another gay themed Cornetto commercial from Thailand: Unexpected love. Boy and Aon are both freshmen Jujitsu players. One day, Boy asked favor from Aon to get closer to Fah - a Campus Star and Cheer Leader. And the unexpected and cute love twist happened along the way.

In Asia such stories are called "BL", which stands for Boy Love. There are quite a few of them in advertising.

Marriage equality Australia - 2017

Magnum has also used a lesbian wedding in its commercial. It was released in Australia during their campaign for marriage equality. It had mixed reviews, as the two actresses used are heterosexual. Unilever ice cream brand features a stylish gay wedding in its spot, and introduced the tagline: “Pleasure is diverse.”

their personal pleasure, being true to what matters to them. “We are thrilled to be launching ´Be True to Your Pleasure´ as a beautiful illustration of Magnum’s philosophy. Everything we do at Magnum is about inspiring, enabling and daring people to take that moment of pleasure for themselves. It doesn’t matter who you are, or what you take pleasure in; this film has been created to inspire you to seize it. Indulge it. Most of all, enjoy it.”, said Sophie Galvani, Global Brand Vice President – Magnum at Unilever. The film was shot in Los Angeles by award winning director Martin Werner. The film was also presented at the festival in Cannes.

London Pride 2017

Magnum’s pop-up ice cream store in London announced that they were donating proceeds from Pride weekend to the trans children’s charity, Mermaids. The ice cream brand announced that ALL sale proceeds made during Pride in London (July 8) would be donated.

Pride Week New York 2018

In honor of Pride Week, Magnum’s NYC summer location in SoHo gave away free ice cream for a week. That said, those working at the Magnum Bar would be asking guests to donate to GLAAD, who’s mission is to advance equality and accelerate acceptance for the LGBTQ community, in place of paying for the bar.


2019 blooper

The brand received backlash after an advert, which played on Spotify in the UK, compared the “guilty pleasure” of eating an ice cream to gay people being imprisoned in countries with anti-LGBTQ laws.

“A hug for my boyfriend. That’s my guilty pleasure. Because in my country, just a simple hug with the man I love could send me to prison for more than 10 years,” said the voiceover in the controversial advert.

A spokesperson for Magnum said that the advert was created to “remind people that what is considered a guilty pleasure isn’t always what you would expect”. But the advert missed the mark, as many who heard it have criticised Magnum on social media, reminding them that the two are “not the same” and called for the advert to be removed.

Spanish pleasure - 2006

One of the first proofs of Marketing the Rainbow for Magnum is this Spanish ad from 2006, where two women present sensuality - because of the ice cream they are holding, of course. Lesbian themes have occured more often in their campaigns. 

Be True To Your Pleasure - 2015

Be True To Your Pleasure shows a group of unique individuals. The film tells the story of Willam, Blake, Gregory Woo and James Charis, who embrace the opportunity to indulge 

Surprise - controversy - 2014

Cornetto ("little horn" in Italian) showed a commercial in 2014, that caused some upheaval.

A bikini-clad girl approaches a guy lounging in swimming trunks, about to enjoy a Cornetto ice cream cone. She sings: "New Wall's Cornetto… give it to me". He replies: "What's in it for me?" In a deep voice, she tells him, "I'm a man." Then she sings, "Surprise, surprise. Give me Cornetto and…"

Five (!) angry viewers complained about this ad to Ofcom - the British body responsible for standards of taste and decency in British TV advertising. They said that the advert contained a “negative message that being a transsexual or being associated with one was something to be ashamed of."

The ad agency said, "The intended humor was the man's surprise when the woman revealed her past. The overriding strategy of the Walls Cornetto campaign was to depict ice cream in the context of modern love scenarios. A man being attracted to a woman (who was once a man) was seen to be an example of a contemporary situation that is increasingly possible in mainstream society. The transsexual character was shown to have the upper hand and was not portrayed in an obviously negative light and the joke was on the male friend." The complaint was not upheld; Ofcom explained that they did not feel that the advertisement "over-stepped the mark."

40 Love - 2014

"40 Love" is a short film for the Cornetto Cupidity series. Game, set and it's a match made in heaven when a young girl finds herself as an accidental target for love. Her relationship with a tennis pro doesn't start off well but will Cupid (Lily Allen) help to bring them together?

Love is Love, Simple as that - 2019, Thailand

A cute little LGBT-themed story - unfortunately it is only in Thai, but the story speaks for itself.

India - 2018

After the Indian Supreme Court decriminalized gay sex with the removal of the British legacy "Section377" in 2018, Cornetto celebrated on social media (along with many other brands). 

Love Expert, episode 1 - 2020, Thailand

Apparently this type of stories is really popular in Thailand, at least with the brand and their agency.

Love Expert is a mini-series of shorts which are commercials for Cornetto. Only episode 1 features a gay couple, episodes 2 & 3 featuring boy/girl couples. Each episode is self contained with no continuing story between episodes.

Golden Gaytime

Golden Gaytime is a popular ice cream snack that is made and distributed by the Streets/Wall's confectionery company in Australia, and first released in 1959. Its name has survived intact regardless, or because, of the possible homosexual connotations in modern decades. The company appears to embrace the camp name by retaining the tagline from the 1980s, "It's hard to have a Gaytime on your own". The in-home boxes feature the words "4 delicious chances to have a gay time". The double meaning of the name is highlighted in The Bedroom Philosopher song "Golden Gaytime".

In spite of the fact that the name does not refer to the gay population, there was a controversy in 2018 in Indonesia. Social-media posts featuring a Rainbow Gaytime ice

Gaynetto 1
gayknetto 2
gaynetto 4
gaynetto 3

Sydneysider Jesse James McElroy is the founder of the Golden Gaytime Icecream Project who first famously campaigned Streets to introduce the 1.25L tubs - which in fact really happened. He then created a "Gaynetto" (a hybrid between the Golden Gaytime and Cornetto) prototype and posted his design on his popular Facebook page a few years ago. Not much later he received a letter from Streets informing him of the brand’s decision to create the Gaynetto.

The Rainbow Gaytime, however, has not been produced. 

cream bar surfaced. This was not an official product but rather a tribute concept created a year earlier by Australian fan Jesse McElroy for Sydney’s Mardi Gras festival and in support of marriage equality. This went viral in Indonesia, and several ugly comments followed, together with calls to boycott Wall’s.

Unilever sought to put the fire by explaining that the brand is not even sold in the country (oh, and the product does not exist). It went on to say the company has been in Indonesia for 84 years and that Unilever “respect and uphold the cultural and religious [muslim] values and norms” of the country.

Gaytime 2
Gaytime 1


Kingis Ice Cream - Have a Big Heart - 2010, Finland

A Finnish commercial that tells a whole story in a nutshell. I like where that is going...

Years later in the UK, Grand Tour host Richard Hammond caused some controversy with his 'joke': "I don't eat ice cream, I think it's something to do with being straight," he said on the show - to cheers and applause from the studio audience.

LGBT rights charity Stonewall condemned Hammond's comment. "Stonewall trains teachers to tackle homophobic, biphobic, and transphobic slurs like these, so to hear this sort of language on television is extremely disappointing and sends the wrong message to young people," a statement read.

Ben & Jerry's


2015 Marriage Equality USA

B&J joined many other companies and signed the Amicus Brief to the Supreme Court in support of the equality movement. They commemorated the historic decision by renaming its iconic Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream: “I Dough, I Dough.” The special pint was available at participating scoop shops for a limited time. The sleeves could also be purchased online through the Human Rights Campaign with all proceeds benefiting the organization.

When the verdict was in they released this special celebration video.

The company was founded in 1978 in Vermont by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, two Jewish men who had been friends since their childhood. One of their mantras was "change-the-world-one-scoop-at-a-time". A blogger wrote they were "married to Activism, Ice Cream and Civil Rights." In 1989, Ben & Jerry’s was the first company in the state of Vermont to offer full benefits to same sex couples.

The company was sold in 2000 to Unilever, who agreed to carry on the company’s tradition of engaging "in critical, global economic and social missions". The website hosts a special section about LGBT+ Rights, where especially trans people are mentioned: "In the UK and elsewhere, our trans siblings in particular are facing discrimination, violence and sustained roll backs of their rights. Two in five trans people have had a hate crime committed against them in the last year, and two in five trans young people have attempted suicide. That's why we're proud to stand with the trans community and uplift their voices in the fight for equality."

2009 Marriage Equality Vermont

To show support for a new Vermont law legalizing gay marriage, they renamed the popular “Chubby Hubby” flavor. The new flavor, was produced in partnership with Freedom To Marry, was called “Hubby Hubby.” Bloggers noticed the successful use of social media to announce the news and spread it.

2019 WorldPride

Ample attention was given to celebrating "50 years Stonewall" during WorldPride in New York. Their website still tells the story. 

2019 Trans activists

As part of their Pride series B&J profiled a series of trans activists working in the UK: Nim RalphAsifa Lahore, Octavian Starr and Cara English.

2019 London Pride

In the run up to the London Pride parade 2019, in partnership with QTPOC (queer and trans people of colour) activists and performers B&J hosted the very first 


2012 Marriage Equality UK

On March 13, 2012, Ben & Jerry's announced it would be changing the name of "Oh! My! Apple Pie!" to "Apple-y Ever After" in the UK in support of equal marriage rights for same-sex couples.  The tubs featured a gay couple atop a wedding cake decorated with rainbows.

2013 & 2015 Marriage Equality Ireland

In 2013 Ben & Jerry’s (in fact, co-founder Jerry himself) announced they were excited to be joining hands with their friends at Marriage Equality to show our support for everyone’s right to marry the one they love in Ireland! For the occasion, they symbolically re-named Mint Chocolate Chunk to EngageMint Party.

In 2015 they campaigned in support of the referendum about marriage equality. The video stars actors Ian Lloyd Anderson and Emmet Kirwan, models Vogue Williams, Holly Carpenter and Thalia Heffernan, comedian Joanne McNally and Dublin GAA players Michael Darragh MacAuley and Rory O’Carroll.

2017 Marriage Equality Australia

"Everyone deserves the right to say "I Do". That's why Ben & Jerry's are encouraging Australians to say "I DOugh" by making marriage equality a consideration in their vote this federal election. We're proud to support Australian Marriage Equality in their efforts to bring about equality in Australia."

Hooked NL 17
Hooked NL 17b

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, B&J released Hooked on You (previously known as Phish Food). They dedicated this special edition to "people in love in all flavors", to celebrate love, but also to draw attention to the acceptance and tolerance of all kinds of love.

"It can be scary to admit you're hooked on someone. But we know that this can be even more difficult for people who don't meet the 'standard', said Laura van Geel, Ben & Jerry's Social Mission Manager. That is why part of the proceeds of this pint will go to COC projects to encourage young people to be proud of themselves and to love those they love.

The launch was part of the ice cream brand's three-year All Flavors campaign, with which the company spoke out for a Netherlands with 'all flavors of people'.

2017 Valentine's Day - We’re #AllFlavours, the Netherlands

2016 Marriage Equality Germany

In support of same-sex marriage in Germany, another flavor change was realized. "We are of the opinion that all lovers, regardless of gender, should have the right to get married. We want to support those who stand up for marriage for all and thus for equality, freedom and justice. That's why Cookie Dough is now Yes, I Dough." The name-change was only virtual though, but the message came across. 

Warsaw Pride Month 2018

In 2012 Polish artist, Julita Wójcik created a giant rainbow, made of 16,000 artificial flowers, 9 metres tall and 26 metres wide. It was a symbol of pure joy, placed at Plac Zbawiciela, highlighting the Polish presidency in the EU, the opening of Euro 2012 and the Pride Parade. It was subsequently destroyed seven times by nationalists and opponents of LGBT rights, and eventually removed in 2015.

In 2018 Ben & Jerry's created an "unbreakable" water-light rainbow hologram in Poland. The rainbow was the same size of the original 2012 floral installation.

“Thanks to the courage of our client Ben & Jerry’s we hope that Poland will become even a little more tolerant. Because it’s high time for that,” added Mikołaj Sadowski, chief creative officer at the creative agency, 180heartbeats + Jung v Matt.

From marriage equality to climate action… Ben & Jerry’s has a huge community which they work with to pursue social and environmental initiatives. Digital Marketing Manager Jay Tandan shares his top tips on how to do it.

DTHBTLLCTAJ* events at their Soho Scoop Shop. "We came together to celebrate pride with drag, music, comedy – and of course,- ice cream. Grab a spoon and dig into these euphoric pics!" 

*ditch the hate, bring the love, let’s come together and jam!



In 2016 they celebrated "12 Years of the International Day Against Homophobia". 


Classic American ice cream brand Klondike had two 'gay vague' commercials: Biker Tutu in 2000 and Bear Sandwich in 2010.

The beginning

Back in 1989 they were the first major employer in Vermont to offer health insurance to domestic partners of employees, including same sex couples, and their website still states: "we haven’t spent one minute regretting it". Here are a few other ways Ben & Jerry’s has supported Marriage Equality over the years:

1996: Their Foundation awarded grants to PFLAG organizations

1999: They supported Vermont’s Civil Union Bill

2001: Support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act

Subsequently, all over the world campaigns were done in support of same-sex marriage.

A special section on their website is dedicated to LGBT+ rights. 

2019 Write-a-thon: Pen Your Pride, Canada

In collaboration with Wattpad, "The world's most positive platform for brands to engage Gen Z" they launched the first-ever branded write-a-thon to engage the LGBT+ community, asking them to “Pen Your Pride” in celebration of Pride Month. The community was challenged to raise funds for a great cause, just by doing what they love…writing! They were asked to write a story about when they felt proud to be a member or an ally of the LGBT+ community. Users were to tag their stories with #WattPride, for which the platform committed to donating $1 to ILGA for each tagged story, with the goal of generating 10,000 stories. Wattpad mobilized 8 influencers and ambassadors to share the campaign outside the community and reach allies. The campaign generated 591,000 engagements globally, 541,339 total reads, and 27,531 comments. There were 17,551 tagged #WattPride stories, which exceeded the story submission goal by over 170%, and the campaign resulted in a 4.6pt increase in brand favorability (from 93% to 98%).

Call Me By Your Name 2018
At a film screening of "Call Me By Your Name", which is about a sultry summer love between two men (261 award nominations, including 1 Oscar won) in the open-air Pleinbioscoop in Rotterdam, visitors were surprised because the evening was opened with Marin and Hanneke's photogenic wedding ceremony. This was in collaboration with Magnum and was organized to celebrate how diversity brings people together. Unfortunately, the film had to be stopped halfway through due to a thunderstorm, but the marriage ceremony had been completed.

Case study: Unilever icecreams Ben&Jerry's/Magnum/Cornetto/Gaytime/Kingis/Klondike

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