In a year that has caught everyone off guard, when Pride festivals were cancelled and COVID-19 dominated every newsfeed, brands have continued to demonstrate they are committed to diversity, inclusion and other issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community through inclusive advertising.
It is proven that representation of LGBTQ+ in mainstream media can have long-lasting and far-reaching benefits. This spans all visual media including film, TV and advertising. Advertising being a multi-billion-euro industry that actively shapes societal norms, more than you might realise.
A study from GLAAD and Procter & Gamble found that ads can help change attitudes about and erase prejudices towards the LGBTQ+ community. Those exposed to LGBTQ+ inclusive advertising become more accepting of the community than those who were not exposed.
Research from Kantar has shown that progressive adverts command greater attention from mainstream audiences. However, a study from Channel 4 demonstrated we still have a long way to go towards truly inclusive advertising that goes beyond the tokenistic and stereotypical roles we have become subject too.
LGBTQ+ inclusive advertising should always strive for authenticity, to champion and give back to the community, whether that be the championing of underrepresented voices or aligning with LGBTQ+ not-for-profits.
COVID-19 has seen some brands priorities shifting away from topics like diversity and inclusion to more immediate concerns like consumer safety and brand relevance. Therefore, when a brand does meaningfully highlight the LGBTQ+ community, we should stan their efforts.
Here are 6 brands who nailed LGBTQ+ inclusion in 2020:
Mastercard – True Name
For many LGBTQ+ people, the name on their bank cards does not reflect their true identity, which can be a source of distress. Mastercard, in line with its inclusivity initiative #AcceptanceMatters, launched True Name, a feature that allows for chosen names to appear on the front of cards. Not only is this a welcome feature the campaign cast trans and non-binary actors and used their experiences as the inspiration which is exactly how inclusion should be done.
Zalando – Clothes Reborn with Pride
Online fashion brand Zalando wanted to take a stand against homophobia in Poland, they joined forces with Polish brand MISBHV and the NGO Campaign Against Homophobia to create clothes with a socially important message. They were made from destroyed clothes that LGBTQ+ people wore during homophobic attacks. The aim of this topical and poignant campaign was to share real stories that show the scale of homophobia in Poland and to support the Campaign Against Homophobia by sponsoring their legal and psychological support programs which help make a tangible difference in the fight for acceptance.
IKEA – Be Someone’s Home
IKEA is a long-standing brand which has always championed the LGBTQ+ community. To mark International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia, they launched a new campaign, ‘#BeSomeonesHome‘. They recognise for many LGBTQ+ people, discrimination is still part of daily life and a feeling of isolation can often extend to their own homes. As such, the feeling of ‘home’ is often not just a physical place, it’s a connection to the communities where they find acceptance. IKEA wants to encourage everyone to check their privilege and try to always make LGBTQ+ people feel at home.
Spotify – Unlike Any Other
Ahead of what would have been London Pride, Spotify unveiled ‘Unlike Any Other’, their global Pride campaign celebrating and pushing LGBTQ+ creators and connecting them to fans around the world. The campaign featured new content and experiences, including ‘Amplify: Pride’, a hub on Spotify dedicated to Pride so fans can find LGBTQ+ music and podcasts. Here Spotify gets top marks for using their own platform to give back to and celebrate queer creatives.
Queer Britain, Levi’s and Post Office – Open Letter to Queer Britain
In partnership with Levi’s brand and Post Office, Queer Britain, is a charity working to establish the UK’s first national LGBTQ+ museum. They put out a calling for the community to share their open letters with the future museum to preserve stories of the LGBTQ+ experience. The campaign featured influential members of the LGBTQ+ community to share their own contributions. Again, we have brands providing the community with a platform and contributing a real tangible resource for future generations to enjoy.
Volterol – Alternative Queer Hobbies
GSK wanted to celebrate diversity and inclusion in a meaningful and authentic way. They partnered with Gay Times to put a modern-day diverse spin on some of its product offerings. For Volterol pain reliever, they created a bespoke content series around ‘Alternative Queer Hobbies’ starring LGBTQ+ people sharing their love of outdoor sports and how this fosters a sense of community and belonging. We should stan this campaign for using queer media and celebrating the everyday hardworking organisations within the community.
Ryan Reid is a Media Account Manager at Carat Ireland.
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