The pride is there! Have fun ! The community! The events! Marks ?
It’s no surprise that brands want to participate in Pride. As an LGBTQ+ person, I know how brand loyal and influential our community can be. However, as the brand’s participation has increased, so have the negative reactions. Superficial accusations of money grabbing have become increasingly common, and misguided attempts at support often result in teasing or anger.
Maybe I’m biased because I work in advertising. Or maybe, as someone in my early 30s, I remember a time when no brand wanted to speak or talk to LGBTQ+ people. I remember what it felt like not to be seen by the world at large.
Either way, I think there is “good” Pride marketing out there. Here’s a plan to make sure your brand’s Pride campaigns are meaningful and memorable.
L is for Legacy.
What some brands don’t seem to understand about Pride is that it’s not about a parade or a party.
Pride as we know it began with the Stonewall Riots, a response to repeated violence and harassment perpetrated by New York City police toward queer bar patrons (especially those of color and non-traditional gender presentation). ). Over the next decade, anniversary protests continued, known as “Liberation Day”. Over time, this evolved into what we now know as Pride.
Pride has changed, and that’s normal! It can be fun and joyful. Yet recent events like Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill and increasingly hostile reactionary legislation against the LGBTQ+ community should remind us all that the fight for liberation continues today.
As marketers, we need to be aware of the roots and context in which Pride exists to create campaigns that, while they may be celebratory and upbeat, are respectful and relevant.
G is for Give.
Despite progress, LGBTQ+ people face many persistent challenges to their safety and well-being. If you want to market to LGBTQ+ people during Pride, you should consider doing so in a way that helps address these issues.
This is probably the biggest reason I see backlash against Pride marketing: when brands don’t actually help LGBTQ+ people.
Contribute to organizations that help us. Work with queer artists, influencers, musicians or models. Advocate for the causes that advance our liberation. If you want to come to Pride as a community ally, you have to act like an ally, and that means centering the needs of LGBTQ+ people around your brand’s need for attention.
B is for Bravery.
Posting a Pride flag on Instagram isn’t brave. To say that LGBTQ+ people have the right to exist is not brave. Saying that trans women are women and trans men are men is not brave. The bare minimum is not brave.
It takes a lot of bravery to be proud and survive in this world. LGBTQ+ teens are still kicked out of their homes. Trans women are still murdered just to exist. In many countries, being gay is still a death sentence.
So be brave, because we have to be. Advocate loud and clear for the rights of trans kids to play sports. Speak out and confront the unique barriers LGBTQ+ people in BIPOC face. Feature people of all body types and gender expressions.
T is for Transparency.
If you’re going to participate in Pride, make sure your internal philosophy matches your external messaging.
Do you have LGBTQ+ people in charge? How does your company handle pronouns in interviews? Does your health insurance cover the procedures that some trans employees may choose to receive or the mental health care that many LGBTQ+ people need to heal from the trauma inflicted by homophobia and transphobia?
Companies like Apple and Chobani have CEOs who are public and vocal allies, which is absolutely important, but these companies also promote workplaces that celebrate and reinforce diversity and inclusion, and they clarify what they represent and with whom they hang out.
Also, if your brand donates money to politicians and organizations that fight against LGBTQ+ people and our rights, you shouldn’t participate in Pride. Seriously, we don’t want you here. We love our allies, but we need real ones.
Q is for Quality.
Pride is important to so many people in our community. It deserves respect, so you should carefully consider and review your Pride work.
The advocacy demonstrated by Mastercard’s True Name initiative is incredibly powerful because it allows trans and non-binary people to use the real name they identify with on the front of credit and debit cards. It may seem like a trivial act, but it answers a deeply personal question of helping a community be seen and respected.
If you have LGBTQ+ employees, make sure they review your Pride content. If you don’t, reach out to your LGBTQ+ friends and family or start a survey with LGBTQ+ panelists! You can’t make everyone happy, but you can try to avoid unintended missteps that derail a well-meaning campaign.
For example, although “queer” is a common and inclusive term that the majority of young LGBTQ+ consumers embrace, many older LGBTQ+ people still view “queer” as a slur and may be uncomfortable with the term.
And please skip “tea”, “hunting” and “shade”. These terms are borrowed from black and Latina people, especially trans women, and the influential movements they started. Not only is it squeaky when brands use them clumsily, but it’s also robbing a band that is still fighting for respect and survival.
+ is for Plus is more than June.
You wouldn’t know it from many marketing calendars, but LGBTQ+ people are also LGBTQ+ for the other 11 months of the year. In fact, I will still be LGBTQ+ on July 1st.
We exist, share and buy throughout the calendar year, and we also remember the brands that still support us. Show your brand cares even when it’s not June. Show us your dedication goes beyond the glitz and glamor of Pride and you’ll have our attention and buying power all year round.
I don’t speak for all LGBTQ+ people. We are not a monolith. Dive deeper into our culture, talk to your LGBTQ+ employees, and dig deeper into your LGBTQ+ marketing efforts.
But I hope that with these basic guidelines, you will have more ways to support your LGBTQ+ consumers and audiences with more connection, sincerity, and understanding.