There are countless ways that brands can engage with Pride month, from pledging financial support to working with LGBTQ+ creators. But consumers are growing savvy to “rainbow-washing”, so simple surface-level pledges will no longer cut it. Who’s getting it right, and what are the most impactful actions that brands are taking? Read on to learn how brands are stepping up to show their support in 2023, in June and beyond.
1.Skittles is thinking outside the rainbow
Every June, numerous brands redesign their logos to incorporate rainbow colors in a signal of their support for Pride. In recent years, however, consumers have been quick to call brands out for “rainbow-washing” and doing nothing to support the LGBTQ+ community beyond a temporary logo change.
One brand bucking this trend is Skittles. In recent years the brand has actually stripped packaging of its usual rainbow hues during the month of June, to shine the spotlight on Pride itself. This year the candy packages also feature artwork by five queer artists, and an on-pack QR code directs consumers to free LGBTQ+ stories on Audible as well as special Pride episodes of Cameron Esposito’s QUEERY podcast. Additionally, $1 from every Pride pack of Skittles supports GLAAD’s ongoing efforts to uplift and support the LGBTQ+ community.
2.Verizon is amplifying genuine representation
While visual recognition of support is important, Pride is about more than just colors. Including members of the queer community in marketing and amplifying their voices on social media is also crucial for spreading an inclusive message and standing behind this under-represented group.
Despite diversity and inclusion efforts in recent years, representation is not yet seen as a success, especially by the LGTBQ+ community; more US consumers who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or other believe that the media industry in America is not doing a good job at representing diversity in TV programs, movies etc. compared to those who are heterosexual/straight – 50% compared to 38% (source: Foresight Factory, 2022). GLAAD’s annual research into representation of LGBTQ characters in TV and movies confirms this perspective, noting that just 11% of series regulars set to appear on scripted primetime broadcast series for the 2022-2023 season are LGBTQ, which is a slight decrease from the previous season.
Verizon is one brand leaning into nuanced LGBTQ+ representation. It created its own faux TV show featuring members of the LGBTQ+ community for its Pride campaign. “No Straight Answers” parodied a game show from the 1970s – the year when Pride celebrations began in the US – by featuring competing teams answering questions about the history of Pride. One team was made up of The Old Gays, a group of gay male Boomers with 11 million followers on TikTok. Another team featured queer Gen Z creators and the show was hosted by queer Millennial personality Benny Drama. The campaign centered queer creators, commemorated LGBTQ+ history and fostered a cross-generational conversation, underlining representation and amplification.
3. JP Morgan Chase is extending its support beyond June
Running a Pride campaign for 30 days isn’t enough to truly elevate the LGBTQ+ community. We know that Covid heightened loneliness for many demographics, and LGBTQ+ consumers are still feeling this more strongly than others; in the US, 28% who are heterosexual/straight feel at risk of loneliness over the next five years, compared with 43% of those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or other (source: Foresight Factory, 2023). This community is in particular need of support, not just in June.
Additionally, the LGBTQ+ community needs to be championed beyond a cameo in a social media campaign. Representation is key to diversity and inclusion, but it’s not the only important element. In fact, a majority of US consumers who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or other (58%) believe that it’s more important for brands to represent minority groups in their leadership teams than in their advertising, compared with 41% of heterosexual/straight consumers who agree with this (source: Foresight Factory, 2022). In essence, brands need to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.
Consider Verizon, which in addition to its Pride campaign this June also announced a year-long commitment to support Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders (SAGE), specifically to help combat loneliness among LGBTQ+ elders by facilitating conversations between them and younger generations. And JP Morgan Chase, which has also donated to SAGE in the past, has an internal Office of LGBTQ+ Affairs, with full-time employees dedicated to managing LGBTQ+ inclusion, both internally across the firm and externally to clients, partners and communities worldwide.
At the end of the day, there’s no one thing that brands can do to support the LGBTQ+ community during Pride. Instead, they should consider many things to cement allyship throughout the entire year – and for years to come. Contact us for more insight into how your brand can stand up for the LGBTQ+ community and become a champion for diversity and inclusion beyond the month of June.