Pride, Brands and Beyond: What It Takes To Be An Ally
The global LGBTQIA+ population was estimated to be about 480 million in 2018 with an aggregate annual global spending power of more than $5 trillion USD. But that’s not all. Millennials today are more likely to choose brands which demonstrate diversity and inclusion.
Consumers today are increasingly leaning towards buying products from brands that stands for a cause. With ‘consumer activism’ and ‘conscious consumerism’ setting in, a promotion campaign can either make or break a brand. Ok Cupid’s ad supporting LGBTQIA+ faced criticism for not recognizing multiple gender identities on their own platform. Today, the App has 13 gender identity options. Consumers do notice whether brands are supportive of causes merely as a form of tokenism towards rainbow capitalism, or if they are genuinely committed to support the upliftment of the community. 70% of LGBTQIA+ consumers are positive towards a brand when they regularly or continually include LGBTQIA+ themes in advertising.
And therefore, in order to create an impact, brands need to capture the very essence of Pride, which is to be bold, fearless and progressive, and display pride in supporting the cause. Godrej’s initiatives to support the community way before Section 377 was decriminalised and its external statement through collaboration with the UN is a classic example of this.
Align your campaign with your product and brand identity
YouTube’s ‘Proud To Be’, Netflix’s ‘Pride Guide’ and Spotify’s ‘Claim Your Space’ campaign promoted specially curated content directly related to the LGBTQIA+ community. The W hotel in Singapore reshared a post of a same sex couple staying at their hotel and amplified a user-generated post rather than creating their own campaign. Aligning the campaign with your brand identity helps convey authenticity in the message to the consumers, instead of randomly releasing unrelated merchandise.
Create a REAL impact
Skittles, whose tagline is “Follow the Rainbow. Taste the Rainbow.” gave up their brand identity for Pride. They replaced their multicolour packs with limited-edition grey “Pride Pack” with the message “Only one rainbow matters during Pride”. It also partnered with GLAAD and pledged to donate $1 for every pack of grey skittles sold up to $100,000. Undoubtedly, it achieved immense social media reach.
In order for brands to become true allies, they need to strive to create an impact by not just smart advertising but by also making a difference. These could be in the form of NGO-collaborations, fundraising, volunteering, pro-LGBTQIA+ legislation support, or any other initiatives.
Make your values and internal practices externally visible
Align company policies, values and culture to make them more inclusive for the LGBTQIA+ community. This demonstrates that a brand has the LGBTQIA+ community’s back, not only during Pride month and on social media, but year-round and behind-the-scenes as well. The formula is simple – ‘Practice what you preach!’ because credibility can be earned only through action and consistency.
Identify your target and set the right tone
Brands must first decide who is their target audience is, – the LGBTQIA+ community or society at large. Bhima Jewellery’s recent ‘Pure as love’ campaign depicted how graciously the family not only accepted but also supported the child as a trans-woman. The message was loud and clear - to spread one’s arms and accept the person, with family being the first place of social acceptance.
OK Cupid’s campaign around PDA conveyed a message of confidence to the LGBTQIA+ community to encourage them to freely display who they are, what they feel and can be with whom they want to be.
15% of people in Southeast Asia identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community. To capture this potential market, reaching out to them through the right media is crucial. Age-old established brands can bring about positive change in the mind-set of the people and therefore, legacy brands must not shy away from including the LGBTQIA+ community in their advertisements.
The messages should be loud, clear and committal and not vague and half-hearted. Branding only for positive press will ultimately result in sudden downfall of the brand. So, before launching a rainbow campaign this Pride month, you should first introspect and ask the following as a company/brand:
Are you really supportive of the LGBTQIA+ community and actively endorse or fund related charities / groups / movements?
Is your company an inclusive and a safe working environment?
Are all other campaigns year-round LGBTQIA+ inclusive?
Are you really adding value and creating an impact through the campaign?
Have you established any lasting and genuine relationship with the LGBTQIA+ community — both within your company and beyond your walls?
 INTO, Brand Innovators Research Finds Marketers, Agencies Too Often Miss Key Opportunities to Authentically Engage with LGBTQ Consumers  Millennials Likely to Be the Biggest Spenders This Holiday Season, Accenture Survey Reveals  The LGBTQ Marketing Disconnect: Missed Opportunities & High Rewards- an INTO & Brand Innovators Report  Diversity and inclusion: Better for your bottom line, best for your people