Oreo is one of Gen-Z’s favorite brands and has made headlines with its previous rainbow-themed social media posts and gender-neutral pronoun packs. As the most diverse and liberated generation in history (only two-thirds of Gen-Z identify as exclusively heterosexual) the brand understands that recognizing and celebrating identity is important.
In celebration of LGBTQ+ History Month this October, OREO is building on the #ProudParent platform and its partnership with PFLAG National by debuting a new film, titled Proud Parent, and releasing first-of-their-kind Limited Edition #ProudParent OREO Rainbow Cookies to reward acts of allyship for the LGBTQ+ community.
(Full disclosure: my brand purpose consultancy Conspiracy of Love worked with Oreo earlier this year on an unrelated social purpose project).
I caught up with Justin Parnell, Senior Director, Oreo Brand at Mondelēz to learn more about this partnership.
Afdhel Aziz: Justin, welcome. Please tell us a little bit about how this partnership with Oreo and PFLAG came about?
Justin Parnell: What makes this partnership special is that it so perfectly encompasses our shared mission to create a more accepting world and that starts with the love and support of your closest family and friends. OREO has been celebrating families and encouraging moments of connection for decades, so a collaboration with PFLAG National, an organization dedicated to connecting LGBTQ individuals and their families, was a natural partnership for us. We also have a proud history of valuing diversity, fostering inclusion and publicly supporting the LGBTQ+ community, dating back to our, controversial, Pride-themed social post back in June 2012. OREO is proud to help drive PFLAG National’s mission to help make the world a more accepting, affirming, and compassionate place, where all families belong.
Aziz: How does this tie into the vision of the world that Oreo has and how it seeks to deal with some of the issues that Gen-Z faces?
Parnell: It’s widely known that family support and acceptance are critical to the health and wellbeing of LGBTQ+ individuals, especially young, Gen-Z members of the LGBTQ+ community. OREO feels that by supporting and uplifting LGBTQ+ and ally voices, and connecting the experiences of proud parents and allies across the country, we can help contribute to the development of a community where LGBTQ+ individuals can thrive.
Aziz: Please tell us a little about the film and the message it sends?
Parnell: The film addresses the journey that many parents face after their child comes out of the closet. It shows the love between Jen and Amy, who are a real couple, and the challenges of bringing a partner home for the first time – especially for LGBTQ+ folks. Through the key campaign message, “A loving world starts with a loving home,” the film aims to highlight the important role parental and community support plays in fostering greater LGBTQ+ acceptance. We hope this film is relatable to families of all kinds and, combined with the other elements of the #ProudParent program, inspires a new generation of proud parents and allies to come out in loud, public support of their LGBTQ+ loved ones.
Aziz: I love the film! I have to confess, it made me cry. How is Oreo bringing this to life via products?
Parnell: While the film highlights the importance of LGBTQ+ acceptance in an emotional, relatable way, this October we are also debuting first-of-their-kind limited edition cookies to inspire and reward acts of allyship for the LGBTQ+ community. We’re excited to release the Limited-Edition #ProudParent OREO Rainbow Cookies, something our fans have been requesting for years. Each pack features seven different colored creme fillings inspired by the colors of the Pride flag. Only 10,000 packs will be available to fans via giveaway starting October 9th. To participate in the program, we are encouraging fans to share a photo of what allyship means to them on social. For complete Terms and Conditions and all giveaway details, fans can visit: www.oreoproudparent.com.
Aziz: Justin, could you please also share how Mondelēz, Oreo’s parent company also supports LGBTQ families through their policies?
Parnell: As a global company with operations in 160 countries, Mondelēz International has a responsibility to our people, the communities we operate in, and to society as a whole, to accelerate positive change. We have a proud history of valuing diversity and inclusion. These values are reflected in initiatives we are doing both internally and externally, and for which we’ve been acknowledged as a company by our top ranking on HRC’s 2020 Corporate Equality Index, among other recognitions.
Here in North America, we also have employee resource groups, such as our Rainbow Council, which is focused on building an open and inclusive environment at Mondelēz International for LGBTQ+ employees. We will also be collaborating with PFLAG National and leveraging their expertise, training sessions and valuable resources to further educate and support employees in the United States through PFLAG National’s Straight for Equality in the Workplace learning sessions and more.
Aziz: Thank you for sharing that. Finally, what advice do you have to other business leaders as to how to tackle purpose-driven initiatives in an authentic way?
Parnell: Authenticity should be a key consideration from inception through execution and that includes checks and balances: input and honest feedback from a diverse team every step of the way. We’re very proud to have built the #ProudParent campaign in close collaboration with the PFLAG team and with additional invaluable insights and feedback from a diverse team of external agency partners and internal team members from the U.S. Rainbow Council, one of our employee resource groups that is focused on building an open and inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ employees at Mondelēz International. Meaningful storytelling is a very authentic way to communicate your purpose message.
This was especially important to us when producing the Proud Parent film. Many members of the LGBTQ+ community were involved throughout every aspect of the film (script, production crew, talent, music composition, editing) which allowed us to, together, create a story that was truly authentic, relatable and inspiring. While we launched the partnership back in June 2020, it has always been important to us that the #ProudParent program with PFLAG National was a long-term commitment. Our collaboration consists of a series of programs throughout 2020 (not just Pride month!) and celebrates the LGBTQ+ community and the allies that lift them up. We are excited to continue to build on the partnership this October.