SweeTARTS are queer now

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Photo: Dave Mangels (Getty Images), SweeTARTS

There are two ways to interpret SweeTARTS new “Be Both” campaign.

The first is to read the press release literally: The candy brand has partnered with fashion designer Christian Siriano to promote its new “Be Both” tagline, which acknowledges that the candies are both sweet and tart. That’s straight-forward.

The second way to read the campaign is that it’s a not-so-subtle acknowledgment that gender is a construct; the binary is irrelevant; and SweeTARTS are the queerest candy out there.

Think I’m making too wide a leap? Consider these choice phrases from the press release (to say nothing of the brand’s partnership with Siriano, an openly gay fashion designer who brought the term “fierce” to the masses): “The new campaign champions Gen-Z and their desire to reject one-dimensional definitions of identity.”


Siriano states in the press release: “It’s impressive to see a candy brand really think about the world today, and want to be as inclusive and diverse as our society is becoming. … Anyone can be anything, and even candy can be more than one thing.”

The outfit he designed for the “Be Both” campaign looks like two pastel-colored garments sewn together, a fringed dress on one side and a pantsuit on the other. It doesn’t take a gender studies professor to connect the dots.

It’s a progressive campaign, but it’s also just plain smart. A 2016 survey by marketing intelligence firm J Walter Thompson found only 48% of Gen Z respondents identify as “completely heterosexual,” a much lower percentage than Millennials. It also found that 78% of Gen Z respondents agreed with the statement “Gender doesn’t define a person as much as it used to.” And 56% of Gen Z Americans knew someone who uses gender-neutral pronouns.


SweeTARTS isn’t making a radical statement with the “Be Both” campaign; like Dr Pepper, it’s just evolving with the times.