3 Tips for Creating a Genuine and Impactful Pride Month Campaign
Pride Month is a time when people come together to celebrate, honor, and show support for the LGBTQ community and its allies. From parades and concerts to various local events and parties, all sorts of celebrations commence during the month of June to celebrate the lengths we’ve come as a country and to recognize the work that remains to be done for the LGBTQ community. As individuals, we showcase our support of Pride in a variety of ways, but what about the role of enterprise brands in Pride month?
Perhaps the most important question to ask yourself, as an enterprise brand, is not how to enter the Pride Month conversation, but whether you’ve yet established any lasting and genuine relationship with the LGBTQ community—both within your company and beyond your walls. If that answer is no, then your brand should consider first and foremost its responsibility in driving community outcomes every day of the year. If an advertiser is not a truly positive partner of the LGBTQ community, it simply has no business benefiting from it.
This distinction—between action and lip service, between community motivation and brand motivation—is important. By now, brands understand that speaking up about social causes benefits them. The 2017 Edelman Earned Brand Study found that “51% [of consumers] will be more loyal buyers of a brand that speaks up, compared with those that remain silent.” They also found that “48% will advocate for and defend a brand that speaks up.” Also, according to Cone Communications, “Millennials represent $2.45 trillion in spending power and are 60% more likely to engage with brands that discuss social causes.” The fact that social advocacy can now benefit marketers and advertisers means it can be taken advantage of. A brand must first and continually act in support of LGBTQ rights: speaking up in a way that makes sense for your brand and creates an actual impact in the community is far more important than social media-based lip service.
“Millennials represent $2.45 trillion in spending power and are 60% more likely to engage with brands that discuss social causes.” - @cone
The number one top tweet of Pride 2017 was a meme that pokes fun at brands who randomly show up during Pride to temporarily flash and market their support for the LGBTQ community (45.3K RTs, 138K likes). Another top tweet during Pride 2017 was a tweet that stated, “happy pride month to everyone except corporations that disenfranchise lgbtq ppl & exploit workers behind limited edition rainbow merchandise” (5.4K RTs, 11.5K likes). In other words, be genuine and practice what you preach. In a recent article on cause-related marketing, Pixability’s CEO states, “You can’t bandwagon on an issue and expect success—the potential for backlash is real.” So, if your brand is active in its support of the LGBTQ community, and is ready to take a stand on social, how can you make sure your Pride campaign lands well among your audience?
Let’s take a look at a few brands who did Pride well and identify what we can learn from their unique social strategies:
Tip #1. Highlight internal stories
One of the best ways your brand can show genuine support during Pride month is by highlighting how your company internally embodies the ideals that Pride month represents. In 2015, Gap Inc. participated in GLAAD’s #GotYourBack campaign by sharing a video that featured 13 Gap Inc. employees who each spoke to their different coming out experiences. This participation shows that Gap Inc. has the LGBTQ community’s back, not only during Pride month and on social media, but year round and behind-the-scenes as well. When you take a deeper dive into Gap Inc.’s global sustainability efforts, you find that their brand has a strong commitment to equality and diversity in the workplace. They even have a business resource group in place called Gap Gay Employees, Allies and Resources (GEAR). This kind of community-building is far more important than any social content you can push out.
Tip #2. Align with who you are as a brand
One way to ensure your Pride month activation is genuine is to align your efforts with the services and/or products that lie at the core of who your brand is. If you’re not an apparel brand, think twice before creating and selling rainbow t-shirts. During Pride 2016, Netflix partnered with Out Magazine and curated a “Pride Guide” that listed the top streaming LGBT films and TV series available for viewing during Pride. Considering people come to Netflix to view movies, it makes sense that Netflix would choose to build off of their already-existent movie viewing services to highlight LGBTQ films in support of Pride. Simple, yet relevant. Similarly, in 2017, YouTube launched their #ProudToBe campaign in which they elevated the coming out stories of many of their platform’s most popular queer creators. And how exactly did they elevate these stories, you ask? Video. What do we know YouTube for? Videos. It makes sense. Celebrating in a way that aligns with what your brand already does makes your public support more genuine.
Pride month is a good time to think about how your brand can positively impact the LGBTQ community, not how Pride content can benefit your brand.
Tip #3. Take your impact to the next level
Another key part of Pride month is realizing there’s still work to be done. So how can your campaign create an even greater impact in the community? Partner with non-profit organizations that are getting stuff done. Seek feedback from the LGBTQ community within your own walls on how to better your internal culture. Everlane, an online clothing brand founded on the principle of treating people fairly through ethical fashion and fair wages, has a 100% Human collection. Apart from these shirts spreading the message that we’re all 100% human and all have a right to our inherent civil liberties, purchases of these clothing pieces also benefit several different human rights organizations. The collection is divided into three parts: a line of clothing that benefits the ACLU, a line that benefits Equality Now, and a line that launched during Pride Month of 2017 that benefits the Human Rights Campaign. Depending on which section of the collection you purchase from, Everlane donates $5 per item to these organizations. The best part? This collection is available year-round. It’s not a one-and-done Pride month situation.
While there are many, many brands out there who participate in Pride and do so successfully, these examples are key because they address three very important questions:
- What is my brand doing internally to support LGBTQ rights?
- Does this campaign align with who we are and what we do as a brand?
- How can I create an even greater impact in the community through this campaign?
Keeping these three questions in mind will help you to develop an impactful yet genuine Pride month campaign. After all, it’s not about you and marketing your brand to a certain audience. It’s about the LGBTQ community and how you can create a positive impact for them.