This post was co-written with Devon DeSanna, copywriter at OBERLAND
We just closed out June: a really exciting month for the LGBTQ community — it’s a marker of the fight for gay rights and equality that began with the Stonewall Riots in 1969, and has turned into a celebration of the achievements we have made and a call to action about the changes, policies and work toward acceptance that so many people around the world, and here at home, still need.
PRIDE has played a major role in the way that brands market and communicate to their audiences. Across industries and categories, LGBTQ love and the families they create are being embraced like never before: dads serving Cheerios to their daughter as part of a morning routine, moms who commit to learn sign language before they adopt their daughter, Tiffany’s decision to include a gay couple in a round of engagement-focused ads, and so many more. It’s no surprise that this is happening: families are more diverse and advertising is meant to hold up a mirror and reflect the change. Companies are aware of the important role that LGBTQ people play in society. Often, for companies that do it well, these advertisements come with a number of internal policies and activations that signal real commitment to the community, including:
However, the tone in June can sometimes feel a little forced — a little decorated, per se — with some brands trying to latch on to a cultural conversation without making a lot of effort. From a rainbow Oreo to a rainbow bottle of vodka to a rainbow Whopper, it starts to feel like brands are merely adding a rainbow flag to their product to force a new sale, not necessarily to form a meaningful connection. Many brands are a bit guilty of “Rainbow Washing”: aligning their marketing with a cause when it’s cute and convenient and might get some shares on social.
While we celebrate that companies have realized the experiences of LGBTQ communities and the importance of PRIDE, we think there is much more they can do. Over the next few years, we hope brands begin to take on the cause more holistically and use their voice and reach to address some of the major crises affecting the community. Here’s where we think they can lead.
Creating successful campaigns requires the right tone and the right players.
We’ve got a lot to do; so, let’s get to work!