From Broadslay to BWYASSS: the best, worst and cringiest brand tie-ins at Sydney Pride

Anyone in a major city that celebrates pride is, by now, familiar with the specific barrage of rainbow capitalism that accompanies it: an ostentatious display of glitz, glitter and wordplay from major brands, shops and corporations which can range from cringe to unhinged – and which are promptly removed the following month.

The intentions, for the most part, are good. For those who lived through the worst times for the community, increased visibility and acceptance can feel radical – even empowering. And it’s worth noting that, ahead of Sydney WorldPride, local government has actually called for retail businesses to queer up their shopfronts to set the stage.

But some of these efforts are bad! Also, they are very funny. Here are some of the weirdest attempts from the past 12 months, reviewed.

Broadslay Shopping Centre

Broadway is one of Sydney’s worst malls: located on a heaving main road, dimly lit, awkwardly distanced from any major train stations and yet somehow always congested. Its claim to queerness, I guess, is that it is subversive – in that it subverts the idea of having an enjoyable experience. On its webpage announcing its pride program (a drag bingo and a rooftop party, for those curious), it shouts: “Broadway is it time to slay the house down!” – which almost feels offensive when uttered by a corporation.

Also, it’s technically rendered “Broadslaaaay”, which makes it sound like the most annoying person at a house party putting on the Wicked soundtrack for no reason (not speaking from personal experience or anything). I will concede that this is marginally better than its branding from last year: the instantly cloying “Broadheeey!” 4/10

Progress shark at the Australian Museum

An oversized inflatable rainbow striped shark hanging forlornly outside the Australian Museum? Now that’s queer culture!

Everything about this choice is insane: the plainly descriptive name obviously focus-grouped to avoid the pitfalls of cliched slang; the anatomically correct shark, complete with gargantuan overbite and dead-eyed gaze; the draping of a queer and trans flag over its body that fails to reach its head; its haphazard placement, hung, apparently, on a tree. It is so bad! In other words, it is one of us – and a masterpiece of public art that joins 44 other commissions as part of WorldPride’s Rainbow City initiatives.

Also the museum’s comprehensive Pride line-up includes Jurassic Lounge: Pride Edition, which is representation for gay dinosaurs everywhere. 10/10


I understand Zambrero’s commitment to the pink dollar. The fast food joint has become an institution on Oxford Street, beloved by queer revellers for slinging Mexican fare late into the night. However, this is also the store with a giant neon sign inside that screams “LET’S BEAT WORLD HUNGER” – though, periodically, only “LET’S EAT” is lit up, implying that no global plight holds a candle to the taste of a hot burrito (in fact they have donated over 60 million meals). Let’s say its ability to pull off a visual stunt is dubious at best. 6/10

Glampol service station

I am begging marketing teams to learn a new word other than “glam”. Also, read the room: gays can’t drive! The only time I am at a petrol station is when I am in the passenger seat, demanding someone stop for a very expensive ice-cream. If I was being extra generous, I would say it’s camp-ol that Ampol have decided to tap into the queer legacy of the truckstop bathroom, but …

To their credit, Ampol has partnered with youth charity Minus18 for their campaign, though this just means they are “raising in-store donations at the counter” in 10 stations across Sydney – which kind of feels like those chocolate boxes you had to sell in primary school, except from a fossil fuel giant. 1/10


This pun, which does not in any way roll off the tongue, is emblazoned across three BWS stores in inner Sydney and seven more across Australia. To utter BWYASSS (that’s “b-w-yasss”, not “bewy ass”) is to feel your entire mouth stripped of moisture, vowels gurgling from your throat, all the air leaving your lungs as you hiss this evil moniker.

I will allow a bonus point for the longevity of the several BWYASSSes, still proudly displaying their rainbow stripes long after pride season. 3/10

Related: The 10 best films at Sydney WorldPride: from Madonna to Nan Goldin and a steamy cowboy movie

Queen Victoria Building

BWS could do well to learn from QVB’s pride campaign, which is not now the “Yasss Queen Victoria Building”, but instead re-naming itself each week in honour of a different pioneer from Australia’s queer history.

Cases in point: Queen Ken Building, for 78er Ken Davis; Queen Felicia Building for Kamilaroi and Dunghutti drag star Felicia Foxx. There are some stranger choices in the mix, but dare I say … subtle! Tasteful! 8/10

Australian queer pioneers: (L-R) Australian Marriage Equality chief executive Janine Middleton, original Mardi Gras initiator Ken Davis, Indigenous drag queen Felicia Foxx and drag queen Kita Mean, pictured with Sydney MP Alex Greenwich.
Actually one of the good ones … Queen Victoria Building has been renamed after different Australian queer pioneers: (from left) Australian Marriage Equality chief executive Janine Middleton, original Mardi Gras initiator Ken Davis, Indigenous drag queen Felicia Foxx and drag queen Kita Mean, pictured with Sydney MP Alex Greenwich. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP

Squealing Pig wines

It’s no Kylie Minogue prosecco, but this New Zealand wine company has bravely ventured into risky and risqué territory by replacing all their Australian rosé labels with one of nine queer poems – many of which read like AI-generated Grindr messages.

Take this one, a very short story: “This little pig loved it all / big chests / hairy chests / looked out for the pick of the litter / but everyone was a babe.” Hemingway could never. 7/10

Rio Tinto’s rainbow crane

You are a mining company. 0/10