Review of Tiffany & Co. ‘Stand for Love’ Spring 2021 Ad Campaign by Director Will Schluter
Iconic jeweler Tiffany & Co. shares an uplifting campaign in celebration of Pride month – but is it just another example of a corporation commodifying queer culture while ignoring what it stands for?
Directed by Will Schluter, the campaign stars a beautifully diverse group of individuals and couples representing a broad spectrum of colors, gender identities, and ages. With a stripped-back set and styling, the focus is on their faces and voices as they repeat the refrain “I stand for – ” and share values of self-acceptance, expression, individuality, and freedom.
Unfortunately, we can’t help but wonder whether the whole aesthetic and message feel rather forced. What does it actually mean to actively “stand” for inclusivity, or for love? It is great that the campaign pledges donations to the Ali Forney Center and SAGE – two nonprofit organizations based in New York City that do important work to support and provide for LGBTQ people in need – but at this point, major brands can’t afford not to make these kinds of donations as a matter of social capital. Many brands are guilty of commodifying queer culture, especially around Pride month – but considering the recent acquisition of Tiffany by LVMH, the push to make the brand more superficially inclusive – that is, more marketable – looks especially conspicuous.
Going deeper, the hip, “for everyone” aesthetic might actually miss the point of what Tiffany stands for in queer culture.
If anything, Tiffany jewelry is an expression of the idea of opulence as explored in the iconic documentary Paris Is Burning, which introduced Harlem drag ball culture to the world. There, opulence is an unattainable fantasy that is nevertheless attained through drag aesthetics, even if only ironically and for a few moments. Reappropriating the symbolism of wealth contained in the glimmer and glamor of jewels, poor, black, queer, and trans kids showed to the world and to each other that, given the opportunity, they could be just as powerful and beautiful as straight society sees itself to be. Yet this aesthetic is empowering, meaningful, and rebellious precisely because the opulence of straight white society is explicitly not “for everyone.”
But rather than acknowledge these cultural complexities of race, sexuality, gender, and class refracted in their shining depths, Tiffany smooths over them with a polished and shiny new surface. Yes, the campaign is well-crafted, and even feels uplifting – if we can let ourselves forget about the intersectional history of oppression in America. But for those of us who recognize that this history still persists violently into the present day, that might be too big of an ask.
Director | Will Schluter Stylist | Jessica Willis Talent | Nakwan, Rachel, Iyania, Bayli, Oskar, Julian, Morgin, Alexa, Lauren, Layla, Jordan, Max, Tomás, Ryu Go, Dax, and Emy
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