SweeTARTS Are Queer Now

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.