Closing the doors on the peak month of Pride marketing season, the rainbow-hued campaigns walk out of the aisle with a little more than a few questions that begs for introspection. June – The month of Pride and a time for commemoration and respect for the rights of the LGBTQ+ (other than the 11 months where you should be doing it anyway) is known to give way to not just colourful, proud parades on the streets, but also in the advertising and marketing industry.
Months of what seems to be meticulous planning, innumerable meetings and campaign briefs all simmer down to an explosion of the VIBGYOR all over the brand, right until the 1st of July.
However, one can ask – Is the campaign a reflection of the brand’s true purpose or just another Pride Party?
To begin with, Pride marketing campaigns in the current years have, in their own accord, turned a political movement into a seasonal endorsement of support. Everyone approves of the support; It is monumentary and a step-ahead in the cultural conversation it stimulates among the masses.
A second, not uncommon case is the use of beautiful rainbow-themed creatives that go with trending hashtags, non-committal representation and barely any real support shown beyond social media. This is called rainbow-washing.
How right is it then for brands to call their marketing campaign as a representation of being an ally? Let’s get into the details:
In order to endear yourself to a community, the first requirement is to always pick a stance. The Pride community thrives on the power of a revolutionary political stance that aims to normalise the rights and lifestyles of LGBTQ+, along with raising a voice for acceptance of sexualities all around.
Similarly, for a brand to be taken seriously in its endeavour to support the community, the right move is to pick a stance and stick by it. #TakePride by Target was one of the first brands to not let go of a manifesto in the face of flak. It was simple, yet actionable: to celebrate being one’s authentic self and making the effort to promote long-standing partnerships with groups and individuals supporting Pride.
What shows on the page might not be what goes on behind the scenes. This is one of the common complaints faced by brands all year long. Consumers are aware to find distinction between performative and an authentic voice of support. Inclusion is the first step to exhibiting that. Introducing policies in the workplace that encourage a flourishing and safe environment for the LGBTQ+ have the potential of a resounding applause than in comparison to the brief asking to include the rainbow in brand identity.
A platform as large as the media has the scope to instigate conversations, bring light to movements, call out blunders and create consistency in the distribution of a certain kind of news. Brands today are the driving force to normalising what might be considered taboo.
If brands like Tanishq could question the role of gender stereotypes, then what’s to say about global brands choosing to educate through actions?
LGBTQAlphabet (2017), a short film released by Equinox took the initiative to orient the audience towards the diversity in the Pride community.
Dunzo, in 2021 chose to support through their #hereforpride campaign aiming to support businesses run by the Queer Community.
To have the community’s back is simple: letting go of normative rules and introducing change, be it through contributing to programmes, voicing movements or even increasing the base of recruiting sans the discrimination. It’s the little steps that make the lasting changes to ensuring a successful effort at Pride marketing.
The eyes (and the campaign) thus need to focus on the rainbow and preferably not the pot of Gold!