Colors of Change: SKYY's Snapshot of Support for the LGBTQIA+ Community

August 03, 2023 by Helena Lombard

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From tiny startup to vodka superstar

Classic color illustration of San Fransisco

In 1992, SKYY Vodka burst onto the sunny streets of San Francisco. And just like many other incredible things that came out of San Francisco (like the television, jukebox, and bendy straw), SKYY started as a tiny startup with big dreams. But this wasn’t just any vodka. It was the brainchild of first-generation American inventor Maurice Kanbar, whose mission was to create the smoothest vodka the world had ever tasted. And he did so with great success. 

SKYY turned the vodka game on its head with its unique quadruple-distilled and triple-filtration process. In 1996, they took their reach to a global level with Gruppo Campari. Twelve years later, in 2008, SKYY launched SKYY Infusions, a fresh spin on flavored vodkas featuring true-to-fruit flavors. The rest, as they say, is history, and ever since its creation back in 1992, SKYY Vodka has become a much-loved American vodka brand.  

A cheerleader for Pride

Color pencil illustration of a drag artist in cheerleader outfit, walking down rainbow-themed NYC street

In a world that celebrates diversity and champions equality, there are heroes who rise above to support and empower the LGBTQIA+ community. They march alongside activists, lend their voices to advocacy, and fight against discrimination and prejudice.  

SKYY has been a loud and proud supporter of Pride since its inception and has championed causes close to the hearts of LGBTQ+ communities. Through its incredible support, SKYY has created safe spaces and events where everyone can freely express themselves. They stand side-by-side with the Pride community, spreading love, acceptance, and empowerment.  

As Pride Month ends in America, it’s a good time to reflect on the remarkable strides that have been made toward equality and inclusivity for the LGBTQIA+ community. While there have been numerous brands that have shown their support over the years, one stands out as a true supporter. SKYY Vodka’s unwavering commitment to inclusivity has resonated with people from all walks of life. The Mixer looks back on SKYY’s incredible contributions and the lasting impact they’ve had on the LGBTQIA+ community.  

2013: Cheers to equality

In 2013 the battle for marriage equality in America was in full force. SKYY Vodka was right there and wasted no time in picking a side. The brand launched a campaign called #CheersToEquality, and turned their support into action. This is also the same year that people were boycotting Russian vodka because of their not-awesome-at-all anti-gay laws. SKYY’s stance was that they were an American vodka made for everyone. They were proud to show their support for inclusivity and equality, and they did it in style. It became clear that SKYY wasn’t just any old vodka brand. They stood for what they believed in and let the rest of the world know that love knows no boundaries. We think that’s pretty rad.  

2015: All you need is love

Color illustration of a giant heart balloon, made up of rainbow colored hearts

In June 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court was gearing up to announce its ruling on gay marriage. SKYY Vodka partnered with Freedom to Marry, a national organization whose goal was to help win marriage for same-sex couples nationwide. It was SKYY’s second year running their Toast to Marriage campaign, and they were out in full force! Starting in April and up until the court’s decision in June, SKYY sponsored various events in New York, Dallas, Washington D.C., New Orleans, Austin, and Detroit. They rallied support from all walks of life, including political advocates, brand bigwigs, creative geniuses, and digital influencers. Even Vice President Joe Biden showed his support and made a surprise appearance at the New York event.  

The goal of this unique partnership and campaign was to encourage supporters in each state to show their belief in marriage for all by raising a ‘Toast to Marriage’ on various social media platforms and encouraging their friends, family, and followers to join them.  

With robust social media backing, SKYY unveiled their “Toast to Marriage” website, empowering and encouraging supporters to share their perspectives using the campaign’s central hashtag, #ToastToMarriage. The company provided a platform for individuals to express their views, while also amplifying their stance on the matter through extensive online support.

On June 26, 2015, The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the freedom to marry nationwide.  

2017: #CheersToEquality, Australia

color illustration of group of people in silhouette holding Pride flags in the air

In 2017 it was Australia’s turn to vote on same-sex marriage. Once again, SKYY Vodka launched its #CheersToEquality campaign but cranked it up a notch. They created really cool smart-tech glassware. When two ‘smart glasses’ clinked together, they automatically snapped a photo of the people holding them. This image also showed off the hashtag #CheersToEquality and each photo served as a digital signature, petitioning support for marriage equality through Twitter using #auspol. And that is how you turn a simple cheers into a powerful movement! It was a genius idea that got everyone talking (and tweeting). 

The #CheersToEquality campaign generated over 27.5 million impressions and $555K in earned media. It also helped raise vital funds for their charity partner just.equal, an Australian lobby and advocacy group that represents the interests and priorities of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Same-sex marriage became legal in Australia on the 9th of December 2017. The result was no doubt because of a culmination of decades of campaigning efforts of the LGBTQIA+ communities and their supporters. 

2018: YYES!

To celebrate same-sex marriage becoming legal in Australia, SKYY Vodka pulled off something pretty epic. They released a limited-edition can that was symbolism at its best—it had a ring attached to it. They fitted a can with a shiny cubic zirconia on the pull tab. This fancy-pants premix drink was called YYES, and one dollar from every YYES product sold was donated to just.equal to support its ongoing work in addressing the needs of LGBTQIA+ Australians. 

2018: Proudly American

Color illustration of the American flag

By now it was clear that SKYY knew how to make a statement, and their Proudly American campaign was no different. This campaign was all about celebrating the incredible diversity of Americans. SKYY gathered some seriously awesome influencers from all walks of life, including the fabulous Olympian Guys Kenworthy, and the fierce queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race — Trixie Mattel and Dusty Ray Bottoms. Then they mixed things up by combining famous phrases from American history – like ‘Home of the Brave’ – with powerful and vivid imagery. These photos captured people who embody what it means to be inspired and proud to be yourself. SKYY spread the love through out-of-home ads, digital campaigns, social media, PR magic, and some great events.

John Cena also partnered with SKYY for a Proudly American video titled ‘The Pledge,’ which features Cena reciting a more modern take on The Pledge of Allegiance. 

2019: Making it official

Classic color illustration of Pride parade in Los Angeles

In June 2019, SKYY announced its partnership with New York City WorldPride and Los Angeles Pride, reaffirming its commitment to supporting the largest LGBTQIA+ celebrations in America. As an official supporter, the brand had a prominent presence at both festivals and showed up with vibrant and bold advertisements in both cities. That year, and to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York, SKYY collaborated with the original vogue performers to pay homage to the individuals and events that profoundly influenced LGBTQIA+ culture today. These fantastic performers rode on the SKYY parade float during the WorldPride Parade in New York, honoring the rich history and impact of the LGBTQIA+ community. 

2020: Shine bright like a rainbow

Classic color illustration of a hand holding a SKYY Pride rainbow prism glass

This next story might just make you beam with rainbow-colored joy! In 2020 a few brilliant minds in Peru at an agency called Geometry had a brilliant idea for SKYY and designed a Pride glass like no other. Armed with inspiration from the rainbow flag, they created a symbol that would keep the spirit of Pride alive. The team redesigned the vodka glass into a super cool triangular shape. The unique shape of the glass meant that it could act as a prism, so when you shine a light through it, it creates a magical rainbow. The Pride glass turned sips into celebrations and served as a reminder of the importance of fighting for equality and celebrating the vibrant diversity of the LGBTQIA+ community. 

2022: I do, a hundred times over!

Classic color illustration of a handsome young gay couple on their wedding day

In 2022 SKYY Vodka, in collaboration with NYC Pride, launched its ‘SKYY Says I Do” campaign. As part of this incredible initiative, the brand generously covered the wedding costs for 100 couples across America. To enter, couples simply needed to post a photo of themselves toasting to marriage equality on Instagram, using the hashtag #SKYYSaysIdo. The brand also hosted a pop-up wedding chapel, open to anyone over the age of 21 in New York looking to tie the knot with their partner on the 19th of December of that year. 

2023, and beyond

In 2023, SKYY Vodka joined forces with NYC Pride, wholeheartedly embracing diversity and inclusion throughout June. The celebrations didn’t end there. SKYY Vodka remains committed to supporting diversity and equality in all their future endeavours.

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