Pandora Assumes Only Heterosexuals Have Valentines

UPDATE: After several dozen members wrote Pandora, taking the company to task for a series of heteronormative advertisements that failed to be inclusive of LGBT users, the company wrote an email response to share with members: “Our marketing communications will be gender neutral moving forward. The message has been heard loud and clear from our end and we deeply regret the error and any offense we may have caused.”

Valentine’s Day is here, and I’m sure everyone has been inundated with advertisements. Unfortunately, many of these advertisements aren’t inclusive of LGBT shoppers — even though plenty of LGBT people celebrate Valentine’s day with their partners.

Pandora, a popular online radio service, sent out an email advertisement that was geared toward those in heterosexual relationships. Since users are required to specify their gender when they register for Pandora, it has a database of all its users’ gender. It does not, however, have any information on users’ sexual orientation. But that didn’t stop them from making assumptions.

Pandora sent out an email intended for its female users. The subject, “A Musical Gift He’ll Adore – Pandora One,” assumes that all its female users are straight. This advertising is rooted in heteronormativity. The subject line’s language could have easily been adjusted so it was gender-neutral and applied to everyone.

Ironically, Pandora made a mistake when sending out this message — in fact, the message described above was accidentally sent to a male. Pandora quickly “corrected” their mistake. In the process, they made it abundantly clear that the messages were geared towards heterosexuals.

In an email entitled “We made a mistake in our Valentine’s Day email,” an email from Pandora explained, “We were experimenting with some gender-specific messages for Valentine’s Day and we ended up messing up a small number of emails, including one to this address. We meant to send an email to men with a ‘Give a gift to her’ message, and vice versa.”

With this follow-up email, Pandora confirmed a rather thoughtless attitude toward LGBT people. Pandora shouldn’t make assumptions about people based on the gender they select at registration.

Please ask Pandora to adjust their communications and advertising to be gender-neutral and LGBT-inclusive.