Inclusivity. Consistency. Compassion. Authenticity. June is Pride Month in America, which makes it the perfect time for brands to publically demonstrate their support of the LGBT community, also known as LGBTQ and LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, asexual or allied).
In addition to the ethical reasons many brands support the LGBT community, there are growth incentives as well. With 7% of the adult U.S. population identifying as LGBT, this minority group represents nearly $1 trillion in buying power. Plus, 54% of millennials say they’d choose LGBT-friendly brands over non-equality focused brands.
In celebration of Pride month, here’s a look at how ten brands engaged the LGBT audience through authentic messages of inclusivity. (Of course, demonstrating an understanding of your audience and showing how they are valued is right any time of the year.)
McDonald’s franchises in Washington, D.C. and the San Francisco Bay area celebrated Pride month last year with a rainbow fry box and by participating in the local Pride March. With a spin on their slogan, McDonald’s pushed “#LovinisLovin” to show their support for the LGBT community and appeal to consumers who may identify with the message. Sporting rainbow colors and their Golden Arches as the “arches at the end of the rainbow,” McDonald’s tweets explained they would be handing out goodies while marching in the 2017 Pride parade.
Actionable Marketing Tip from McDonald’s: Make your consumers feel valued. One customer drove from his Midwestern state to a Washington, D.C. franchise because he appreciated McDonald’s inclusive stance on Pride, which made his community feel valued. He traveled nearly 450 miles to support a business who supports him.
In 2012, Oreo first shared their Pride cookie on the brand’s company page. Their adapted cookie included cream fillings in all colors of the rainbow and was accompanied by the tag line “proudly support love.” The post collected nearly 38,000 comments and 226,000 likes.
Oreo’s support of the LGBT community initially sparked backlash from conservatives, but the brand stayed true to supporting the cause. In 2015, Oreo’s Twitter account released a well-shared photo with rainbow-colored, vanilla cream cookies and the caption, “we’re all the same on the inside.”
Actionable Marketing Tip from Oreo: Oreo follows one of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) tips: be consistent and be confident. As HRC says, “Modifying or withdrawing ads after negative criticism from conservative groups suggests waffling and alienates LGBTQ consumers.” Even though Oreo received backlash after their 2012 rainbow cookie, the brand has continued to show steady support for the LGBT community.
8. U.S. Bank
Actionable Marketing Tip from U.S. Bank: Be inclusive with your marketing strategies. U.S. Bank asked their consumers for inspiration by opening the contest to any and all who submitted designs. This way, they gave each participant an equal chance to create a supportive representation of the LGBT community.
7. Tiffany & Co.
Tiffany & Co. released their first Pride ad in 2015 featuring a real same-sex couple sitting on a stoop in New York City. Though targeting the gay community, the ad copy was relatable to all newly engaged couples, with lines like “Will you promise to never stop completing my sentences” epitomizing the “Love is Love” message of marriage equality campaigns. The ad, reposted and praised by celebrities like Miley Cyrus, confirms Tiffany’s support of the LGBTQIA community. Tiffany spokesperson Linda Buckley said, “True love can happen more than once with love stories coming in a variety of forms.” If one brand can reimagine and open marriage, it’s Tiffany & Co.
Actionable Marketing Tip from Tiffany & Co.: Just as the Human Rights Campaign suggests, Tiffany & Co. avoided stereotypes and clichés by using a real gay couple. The couple’s authenticity helped drive the message and enforced positive images of the LGBTQIA community.
Last June, Uber released an LGBTQIA-friendly campaign titled, “Whatever Your Road, Ride with Pride,” that featured members of the community riding to Pride parades in colorful Ubers and creating loving friendships along the way. Uber stated its commitment to “keeping the LGBTQ community moving in the only direction we know — forward,” as they encouraged individuals to be true to themselves and their sexualities.
Actionable Marketing Tip from Uber: Be supportive. Filled with different colored cars in support of the LGBT community, Uber’s campaign video sends a clear message: “ride with pride.”
5. Lush Cosmetics
Last year, Lush Cosmetics, a retailer of fresh handmade skin and beauty care, kicked off Pride month with an Instagram post that included an image of a rainbow-colored product. Receiving more than 90,000 likes and 3,000 retweets, their 2015 post was even more popular than their 2015 tweet, featured to the right. The brand encouraged interactions with their consumers by asking supporters to comment with a rainbow emoji if they are “always proud to stand alongside our LGBTQ friends and family.” By promoting their support of Pride month, Lush Cosmetics effectively gave members of the LGBTQIA community a voice and safe space within the brand.
Actionable Marketing Tip from Lush Cosmetics: Be engaging with your content. Lush Cosmetics began a conversation on their Instagram post by asking supporters to comment with rainbow emojis. This action created an environment for the LGBTQIA community, reminding these individuals that they are, in fact, welcome.
4. New Orleans Tourism
GoNOLA, New Orleans’ main tourism brand, gathered parade go-ers in the middle of Mardi Gras to hold a “reverse parade,” which portrayed how the world will change if we don’t appreciate individuals as they are. Parade marchers took off head pieces and removed wedding rings, much to the public’s surprise. But alas, the music started back up and marchers returned with signs that read, “we’re never going back.” GoNOLA marchers were quite literally parading around their support for the LGBTQ community. The short film, a recording of the parade, has more than 1.3 million views. GoNOLA proved their heart shines with Pride because, after all, their motto is “always open.”
Actionable Marketing Tip from New Orleans Tourism: Be diverse within your marketing campaigns. New Orleans Tourism knows that not every LGBTQIA community member looks the same. Their reverse parade was open to members of all backgrounds and those individuals were proudly captured for GoNOLA’s short film.
3. Mercedes Benz
Last year, as the root of their “Painted with Love” marketing campaign, Mercedes Benz Canada released a short documentary film that gained more than half a million views. In support of Pride, Mercedes and members of the LGBT community discussed real-life experiences about dealing with homophobia. Combining these hurtful memories with the healing power of art, a mural painter crafted a piece representative of how far these individuals have come. Mercedes opened its arms to consumers of all sexualities, encouraged individuals to “be unapologetically yourself all the time” and pointed out that negative experiences don’t define a person.
Actionable Marketing Tip from Mercedes Benz: Demonstrate compassion in your marketing. The creators of the “Painted with Love” project took the time to sit down with members of the LGBTQIA community and hear about their negative experiences in order to create something positive. Empathy from Mercedes gave the LGBT members a platform to express their voices.
In Equinox’s five-minute video, which gained traction with nearly 100,000 views, the company supported the LGBTQIA community via a thoughtful spin on reciting the alphabet, which provides definitions for 26 LGBT terms. The fitness brand encourages individuals to be the best versions of ourselves, which starts by accepting and loving yourself for who you are. Equinox empowers its LGBTQIA members to challenge themselves and social constructs. From femme to intersexual to heteroflexible and everything in between, the LGBTQIA community is welcomed into the safe space of Equinox to reach unparalleled fitness.
Actionable Marketing Tip from Equinox: Understand. In an effort to normalize the language and help the public understand the minority community, Equinox took the time to explain LGBTQIA terms. Accepting the LGBTQIA community starts with understanding, and Equinox took a first step: helping their consumers learn more.
Nike’s BE TRUE campaign, which focuses specifically on the LGBTQIA community, was established in 2012. In an effort to unite the community and lend Nike’s support, the brand provided roughly $2.5 million in monetary assistance to LGBTQIA causes. Nike’s BE TRUE collection, consisting of rainbow sneakers, shirts and socks, was released in 2017. One t-shirt reads “EQUALITY” in rainbow letters, combining the BE TRUE campaign with the EQUALITY, launched in 2017.
Through their EQUALITY and BE TRUE campaigns, Nike has shown their undying encouragement for the numerous minority and underserved communities. As a result, Nike has built a loving and compassionate reputation.
Actionable Marketing Tip from Nike: Be true (and authentic). Nike’s BE TRUE campaign wholeheartedly backs the LGBTQIA community, adding unwavering support to the Nike brand and demonstrating the right way to approach any LGBTQIA marketing.
Like any marketing strategy, Pride shouldn’t be included just because it’s trendy. Brands should develop LGBTQ campaigns if the content is applicable to their audiences, as defined by data. Take a look at the Human Rights Campaign’s tips for marketing to the LGBT community so you can wave the rainbow flag in support this June.