• Sophie Hanneken

Advertising During Pride

Advertising During Pride

Pride Month is a great time to acknowledge and appreciate the achievements made by LGBTQ+ activists since the first Pride parade in 1970. According to the Library of Congress, “The purpose of the commemorative month is to recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally.”

However, the true meaning and purpose of Pride can easily become lost in a sea of marketing campaigns promoting products rather than celebrating the achievements of activists and members of the queer community.

“Rainbow washing,” or simply performative activism in the form of placing a rainbow on a product without legitimate support of the queer community, is a valid concern during Pride. In an attempt to avoid “rainbow washing,” here are some of the most successful marketing campaigns and tips to help your brand during Pride.

The Best:

  1. Mastercard and McCann’s “Acceptance Street” At the corner of Christopher and Gay in New York City, Mastercard and McCann installed additional signs as symbols of the company’s support of the LGBTQ+ community. This example easily showcases a simple yet effective way to show support without being overly capitalistic in that it does not promote any particular product but lets the company’s message of support be heard.

  1. Nike’s BETRUE campaign Nike’s BETRUE initiative began in 2012 and is a wonderful example of a successful Pride Month campaign. The company has allotted over $2.5 million to LGBTQ+ causes and has continued to support minority groups and communities such as the Center in New York City, which “provides critical resources and services to all New Yorkers in the LGBTQIA+ community,” according to Nike.

  1. Google’s Kiss Detection The Kiss Detection commercial created by Google in 2019 featured same-sex couples while promoting the new Google Pixel and its “kiss detection” feature. This commercial provided an opportunity for the company to broadcast a message of support to bring the idea of equality to the forefront.

Tips for creating your own successful and supportive campaign:

  1. Be genuine. The worst thing your brand can do is pretend to hold certain values when it has proven to oppose them in the past. Review your brand’s mission and values before deciding if a Pride marketing campaign is right for you.

  2. Extend your advocacy outside of Pride Month. If your brand is genuine in its support, celebrate and advocate for the queer community year-round. Prove to your audience (and beyond) that your brand’s Pride campaign does not have a hidden sales-driven agenda.

  3. Expect negative feedback. It is impossible to please everyone. Stay grounded in your brand’s decision to support the LGBTQ+ community and remember the importance of your brand’s support.

  4. If your brand is worried about “rainbow washing,” opt for more charitable options to show support. Instead of attempting to capitalize on Pride Month, pledge to donate a portion of proceeds to LGBTQ+ organizations, or use your brand’s platform to promote those organizations.

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