The Meaning Behind Pride - and Pride Marketing
January’s over, and as much as we’re excited for the annual downpour of mediocre marketing campaigns urging people to celebrate Valentine’s Day, there is a bigger, more-deserving movement on the scene: the LGBT+ History Month.
During LGBT+ History Month in the UK, we celebrate lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and non-binary history, along with the history of LGBT+ rights. Support for LGBT+ community has been growing immensely over the last couple of decades, with many organisations, influencers, and brands speaking out in support of the LGBT+ community. The most popular tell-signs of LGBT+ awareness branding include pride-themed logos, merchandise, and social media posts. In earlier days, when speaking out on the topic seemed taboo, these small tokens of awareness would have maybe satisfied the needs of the LGBT+ community. However, as branding and audience engagement continued to evolve, celebrating LGBT+ awareness has become about much more than just displaying a rainbow across your digital platforms.
In fact, 10% of the LGBT+ community think that today’s brands engage in promoting Pride Month only as a way to make money, and 31% of the LGBT+ community feel that Pride marketing portrays them badly. There is no longer room for the platitudinal pride month marketing, and we can all agree that if brands truly want to be an ally to the community, they must act upon it by meaningfully engaging in the LGBT+ conversation. To help set the right tone for this year’s LGBT celebrations in the digital space, we’ve collected a handful of our favourite LGBT+ Pride marketing campaigns that showed true commitment to celebrating the community.
Coming up first is the peak of childhood fun, Lego.
In 2014, Lego produced one of the best songs to ever exist in animation titled, ‘Everything is Awesome’ - we could argue the ‘best song’ point eternally.
More importantly, Lego took the globally popular phrase and gave it an LGBT+ remake, forming their ‘Everyone is Awesome’ campaign. The campaign featured a whole page on their website dedicated to the LGBT+ community, with LGBT product redesigns like the ‘Pride Parade Float’ created by real adult Lego fans. Along with videos, and a ‘uniquely united’ section where customers can find advice on how to support the LGBT+ community, there is also a personal message from Matthew Ashton, Vice President of Design at Lego, in which he explains his coming out experience, and discusses what the ‘Everyone is Awesome’ Lego set means to him.
Going one step beyond their awesome-packed Pride marketing campaign, Lego continues to use the landing page to shine a light on their partnerships with Stonewall and Workplace Pride in their ongoing fight against workplace inequality and homophobia.
Plus, if you’re a fan of the very popular and LGBT+ friendly show ‘Queer Eye’, you’ll be happy to know that Lego recreated Queer Eye’s Fab Five as playable characters to celebrate the creative expression and positivity within the community!
By honouring LGBT+ history and helping to educate the next generation of Lego-players in an utterly awesome way, Lego gets the up-vote from the LGBT+ community.
Another brand which gained popularity during UK Pride Month with its marketing prowess is Amazon Music, who demonstrated an incredibly hands-on approach in their engagement with the LGBT+ community and corresponding events.
During the 2017 Pride in London, Amazon stood out as the first official music sponsor of the festival, offering a free track set list of LGBT+ songs. Amazon also partnered with Women’s Stage, encouraging its LGBT+ employee network Glamazon to march in the parade. Aside from their much-appreciated attendance, Amazon made waves in the digital space by launching an advert which celebrated LGBT+ relationships and the influence that music has on our daily lives. Overall, this Pride marketing campaign was innovative, direct, and personal to music listeners worldwide, earning Amazon the title of a Stonewall Diversity Champion.
Amazon continues to show support for LGBT+ rights through their global ‘Proud’ playlist accessible through Alexa, and new ‘History of Pride’ podcasts. For those who are seeking an extra LGBT+ study challenge, try saying, ‘Alexa, quiz me on Pride,’ to your Amazon smart speaker.
Joining the top tier of LGBT+ supporting brands is H&M. Aside from producing Pride-themed merch, H&M used the power of their brand marketing and technology to bridge the gap between the public, and their own LGBT+ network as a part of their tech-driven campaign.
To bring real LGBT+ stories to life, H&M created a dedicated ‘Beyond the Rainbow’ app which allowed users to scan rainbow flags they see in real life, and share their individual stories ‘from the other side of the rainbow’ online. The campaign featured global celebrities who took part in the campaign, and encouraged others to share stories of love, coming out, and celebrating their true selves.
The campaign proved popular in the digital space by creating a safe, friendly environment where people could find and share personal accounts, both negative and positive. H&M’s Pride marketing campaign hero, project manager Ashley Wright, spoke extensively on the importance of equality and acceptance in his own personal account as part of the campaign, in order to open doors to internal and public conversations surrounding LGBT+ rights.
Companies supporting the LGBT+ community authentically, including the amazing examples above, have set the current standard for marketing connected to LGBT+ awareness – a standard which should be uniform across all participators. Now, more so than ever, advancements in online communication and technology have enabled an open, and interactive conversation.
If you’re feeling a little lost, or need fool-proof tips for pride branding in 2023, here’s a list of our essentials:
Companies are aware of the collective buying potential of LGBT+ community, which is estimated at $3.7 trillion. If you’ve never heard of rainbow washing, it is the act of monetising the rainbow within your products and partaking in LGBT+ Pride awareness to appear more progressive in your marketing, with the underlying goal to increase revenue. With the community and its allies drilling down on brands who don’t walk the talk, this marketing strategy doesn’t go unnoticed, you can read up on some of the misfired campaign attempts here.
2. Involve the LGBT+ community on both sides of your digital campaign
It is nice to feel represented in the creative industries, especially at the time when the world is celebrating and honouring the LGBT+ movement. As a company committed to fighting the inequalities and hardships faced by the LGBT+ community, your digital team should represent members of the community, internally and externally. For example, if you are filming a campaign featuring an LGBT+ couple; employ real LGBT+ actors and put some LGBT+ professionals behind the camera lens too! Make sure to explore some of the world’s most progressive, LGBT+ inclusive adverts, and be prepared to laugh and cry all in the space of 5 minutes.
3. Appreciate, not appropriate, the LGBT+ culture
It is easy for brands to rush their research, and unintendedly appropriate LGBT+ culture. Even if the intentions behind it were good, the appropriation footprint will remain on the internet forever. There is a fine line between appreciating and appropriating, so make sure you choose the right language for your Pride awareness marketing campaign; rather than using LGBT+ slang to draw the attention of LGBT+ community, reach out to the public in a meaningful, honest voice.
4. Include a call for change, and support the LGBT+ community all year round
Whether you’re championing genderless love, or trying to promote diversity in the workplace, ask your audience to be proactive and align their values to your key message. As a part of your campaign, you could offer a dedicated page, post, or video which could link to useful educational resources. Also, don’t be afraid to reach out and team up with LGBT+ events, organisations, and influencers - there’s no better way to portray your authentic support, than handing over the reins to the people living the stories! If you really want to change the future, make a statement of it!
Now you’re better equipped to create and recognise appropriate LGBT+ branding. In 2023, there are at least 67 countries that still criminalise LGBT+ relationships or forms of gender expression. Brands have the power to initiate real change in the world through promoting acceptance and equality. Click here to learn more about LGBT+ rights, or to make a donation!
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