Celebrating the LGBTQ+ community and Pride Month is quickly becoming a trend in the world of experiential marketing. With Pride events across the globe drawing in millions of energized attendees, it’s no surprise that brands wish to capitalize on the growing movement in an authentic way. New York City’s Pride parade brings out a staggering 2.1 million attendees while smaller cities like Columbus, Ohio attract about 500,000 people.
As an investment, Pride events encompass a substantial opportunity to show brand support for this vital cause, while quickly and effectively reaching a broad audience. Pride events offer an excellent opportunity to advocate for and represent the diversity of your employees, and participation in pride events show support to your loyal customers. From a financial standpoint, the cost per impression at one of these events is incredibly low. With premium sponsorships offered in the $10,000 range, you can reach deeply engaged consumers for less than a cent per person.
Activating at these types of events gives your brand the opportunity to play a formative role in creating lasting emotional connections. With attendees gathered together as a community in a heightened state of exhilaration and acceptance, coupled with a cost per impression that is significantly lower than that of an ad campaign or similar Coachella sponsorship, you should strongly consider adding Pride to your upcoming events program.
Before you begin planning an activation in support of Pride Month or any LGBTQ+ event for that matter, the most critical step is to understand what Pride is all about and how your brand can contribute in a meaningful and focused way. By getting involved in the pride movement you can generate a ton of buzz around your brand, but if you’re piggybacking on a trend and not furthering the cause, your participation can result in a backlash of negative press.
Below you will find some background on the Pride movement, as well as a few tips to keep in mind, and some information on brands who have focused on this cause in a beneficial way.
Stonewall and Gay Pride
In June of 1969, riots broke out in New York City following a police raid of the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar located in Greenwich Village. The Stone Wall Inn and other similar bars across America were some of the only safe havens for disenfranchised groups of poor, minority and LGBTQ+ people to escape bigotry and be together in peace. Many consider the riots that followed to be the most pivotal event in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights in the U.S. On June 28, 1970, the first pride marches commemorating the anniversary of Stonewall took place in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago. A few years later, gay rights organizations and newspapers were popping up across the country. As awareness and acceptance around gay rights have grown, these parades and marches have begun to take on a more celebratory bent.
Tito’s Handmade Vodka built its vodka empire by spreading the love. In fact, in 1992 Tito started making Vodka to give as gifts for friends. Nearly 20 years later, giving remains at the heart of the Austin Texas-based company. They fully believe in giving back to local communities and support thousands of non-profits. Tito’s has a ton of experience in cause marketing, and they’ve created lasting partnerships with the LGBTQ+ community at Pride events across America.
In 2018, Tito’s Handmade Vodka is taking their float to Pride Parades and Marches in numerous cities across the country. In each city, they partner with the local community and work with local drag queens, brand ambassadors, and DJ’s to deliver an experience that shines with local color and authenticity.
Tito’s doesn’t limit their support of the LGBTQ+ community to Pride month. Their dedication to the cause continues throughout the year and is a leading reason that Tito’s is so welcomed within the LGBTQ+ community. Not only will their Pride float be on the road for the entire year, but they donate all net proceeds from their online store to a charity of your choice with Equality Federation, a major LGBTQ+ non-profit, named prominently as one of their featured charities. Supporting LGBTQ+ rights is a natural and authentic fit for Tito’s. Giving is central to their mission as a company, and they work all year long with local organizations to champion tolerance and acceptance for all.
Macy’s Pride + Joy
Diversity and inclusion are at the core of Macy’s approach to doing business. According to CEO Jeff Gennette, “Diversity is a business imperative – aligned with our priorities and integrated into all areas of the business.” Women represent 75 percent of their workforce and more than 65 percent of manager-level positions. Racial minorities also represent more than 68 percent of their associate team and over 38 percent of the management team.
To celebrate Pride this year, Macy’s will be participating in more than 20 parades and celebrations across the country and will host a number of in-store celebrations featuring local DJ’s, celebrities, and LGBTQ+ influencers as a way to shine a light on local colleagues and charities. In addition to creating capsule collections with Kenneth Cole and curating pride collections with a host of other brands like Calvin Klein and Levi’s, Macy’s will be commemorating Pride with newly designed window treatments and ads that feature inspiring quotes from their own employees.
The world of gaming and e-sports has long suffered from a stigma of toxicity and vulgarity especially as it relates to female and queer gamers. With that in mind, the live streaming platform Twitch launched a fully integrated campaign to raise awareness and provide support for the LGBTQ+ community. They took part in the SF Pride Parade and partnered with their community of LGBTQ+ creators and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC®) to raise awareness and money for equality. Twitch featured these awareness and fundraising campaigns all month long on their homepage and has provided easy instructions along with a link to help any creator start their own fundraiser.
Twitch has done a fantastic job of getting their staff involved too. They’ve joined forces with “It Gets Better” to share personal stories from their team with the intention of supporting anyone who feels isolated by their sexual orientation. They’ve also created a line of apparel and global pride emotes that will be available indefinitely with 100 percent of the profits going to HRC®.
The Key Takeaways for Successful LGBTQ+ Activations
- Make your support of human rights and equality a part of your mission as a company if it’s not already. This will ensure that your support is a natural extension of your brand.
- Leverage the stories and perspectives of your internal teams as well as those of your customers to create authentic content. This will help you develop content that carries weight and provides a tangible value to the community at large.
- Make sure you know what pride is all about. You have to know your history to know where you’re going.
- Getting involved in Pride Month is a great start. It’s even more powerful if you can transition your support into a general campaign that runs throughout the year. By continuing to stay involved you will show your customers and team members that supporting the LGBTQ+ community is of vital importance to your brand and not just a passing fad to boost sales.