For several years, brands have been marketing explicitly to the LBGTQ community. As Matt Tumminello, president of Target 10, an agency specializing in LGBTQ consumers, recently pointed out, it's time for all brands to get in the game.
"The list is long (and continuing to lengthen) of brands that have created successful and impactful campaigns that drive ROI, including Honey Maid, Tiffany & Co., Cheerios, Microsoft, Wells Fargo and Hallmark, among many others," Tumminello wrote in an op-ed for Ad Age. "LGBTQ consumers are not a fad. The market has staying power -- it's not here today, gone tomorrow. And despite the rush, there will always be a place for authentic marketing that connects with LGBTQ consumers. Don't be shy about jumping in with appropriate well-crafted messages."
Naturally, marketers can and should reach out to LGBTQ consumers throughout the year, but each June represents a special opportunity for brands to connect around Pride.
Nike is more than just a leading athletic shoe and apparel brand. For many consumers, Nike represents a kind of shorthand for empowering athletes from all walks of life. To help extend that message beyond marketing, Nike has celebrated Pride through product with its Be True line. In the past, that's always meant adding rainbows to the iconic Nike logo. This year the rainbows remained, but as ESPN pointed out, Nike added black and pink upside down triangles to the gear as a reminder of the profound and systematic bigotry that is often been perpetrated against members of the LGBTQ community.
The rainbow is an iconic Pride symbol. But how does a brand celebrate Pride when its product is already synonymous with rainbows? Here's how Skittles answered that question and helped celebrate Pride in London.
To make good on its promise, Skittles created a limited edition run of its popular candies. Instead of a red package and multi-colored treats, these Skittles were white and came in a matching wrapper.
YouTube sees itself as more than just a video player, online video host, and content creation company. At its core, the YouTube brand is about community, and as the company's CMO, Danielle Tiedt, put it, "We are really proud for YouTube to stand for a community where everyone can belong."
That sentiment is certainly applicable to any member of the YouTube community, but to celebrate Pride 2016, YouTube wanted to make a special point about gender identity and sexuality. The result was #ProudToBe, a campaign that featured content that was already on the site -- a clever choice for a platform that ushered in the user-generated content revolution.
Pride 2016 took on an especially important meaning in the U.S. because it marked the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court's marriage equality ruling. Several brands took note of that historic moment, but American Express made a big splash in an old school way with full-page print ads in The New York Times. The campaign, known as #ExpressLove, featured real American Express customers who submitted to their own photos.
"The campaign is authentic to who we are but it's also a big statement for us to do an ad in The New York Times on this anniversary date," Brad Minor, head of global brand partnerships and experiential for American Express, told AdWeek. "What's so great about the campaign and the ad itself, [is that] it takes that notion of membership that we're known for and really turns it into community and inclusion and that you're part of something bigger and special."
There's a beautiful and logical connection between the idea of Pride and a smile. Of course, it would be easy to make that connection in a clunky, ham-fisted way. But instead, Colgate captured real emotion with a Pride ad that ran in Mexico.
Slate writer, J Bryan Lowder praised Colgate for finding just the right tone and selecting the perfect moment.
"What I like best about these 30 seconds is how, rather than merely invoking the community with safe images of weddings or ladies holding hands on the beach, they're a truly relatable snapshot of the gay experience," Lowder wrote. "Many of us really do worry if our neighbors will greet us with hate or with a helping hand, and the spot's tagline -- translated as 'Sometimes you just need a smile' -- is totally accurate. Something as simple as a smile, a held door, or a polite how's your partner? can make a huge difference in whether or not LGBTQ people feel welcome in a given community. So here's to Colgate for reminding viewers of that simple but crucial fact while also promoting their minty brand."
While many brands chose to celebrate Pride in a consumer context, Microsoft struck a different tone with its London Pride celebration by focusing on the workplace. As Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recently explained to company employees, part of Pride means expanding the company's values of inclusiveness and diversity to the wider world. To help accomplish that goal, Microsoft launched an Allies program, pointing out in a statement that "allies have a vital role to play in creating inclusive environments and they're key to advancing fair treatment for LGBT people at work, home and in their communities."