Discover The Best (And Worst) Pride Marketing Campaigns

6 min read

Avatar Liam Thornton

15th June, 2022

Content Marketing,News

June is Pride month, and this year marks the 50th anniversary since the first Pride protest was held in London in 1972. Originally, it commemorated – the Stonewall Riots of 1969 and, more recently, the legalisation of gay marriage in June 2015 by The US Supreme Court.

Within the marketing industry, Pride has become synonymous with brands jockeying for position to illustrate their latest campaign endeavours. Below, we take a look at seven pride focused marketing campaigns some great, some…. From brands that demonstrated a blueprint on how to craft a successful Pride campaign to those whose edgy campaigns backfired, discover and be inspired by campaigns behind Pride month.

PRIDE BRANDING

From a consumerist perspective, Pride branding is crucial and typifies the views on LGBTQIA+ issues that a brand represents. In recent years, brands have exerted their creative prowess to deliver bold and successful pride campaigns. 

Ensuring the key messages within a brand’s Pride marketing campaign are exemplified as respectful and authentic is pivotal, as this helps to reinforce healthy brand awareness. However, there are occasions where brands have found it difficult to navigate the waters between being representative and inclusive against virtue signalling and controversy. 

THE BEST OF PRIDE CAMPAIGNS

MERCEDES-BENZ

A number of different campaigns released by the German car manufacturer have caught the eye, noticeably the ‘Painted with Love’ video released in 2018 by Mercedes-Benz Canada. The five-minute video shows various real-life accounts from people within the LGBTQIA+ community, detailing the homophobia and transphobia they have been subjected to during their lives. 

The stories shared are used as an inspiration for artist Thomarya “Tee” Fergus to create a mural that elicits healing through the expression of art. It encapsulates the deep feelings and emotions that are a driving force in communicating real-life messages through Pride. Mercedes manages to perfectly blend emotive story-telling with the progressive triumph that Pride celebrates, making this one of our favourite Pride campaigns. 

NIKE

First launched in 2012, Nike’s BeTrue campaign is the go-to example of what epitomises a successful Pride campaign. The BeTrue launches each June, with the emphasis from Nike to recognise the values and beliefs of everybody as one, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Nike enlisted the support of famous faces from the LGBTQIA+ community in Japanese footballer Shino Shimoyamada, actress Gia Parr and digital influencer Bretman Rock. The campaign amplifies the message in this year’s BeTrue/Proudly in Motion campaign for their 2022 range. 

Aside from the rainbow-embroidered clothing and footwear releases, Nike combines effective marketing with profound change throughout the year. They pledged $625,000 in grants to 18 organisations across the United States who are advocating for and advancing the community. Further still, The Nike Community Impact Fund supports the PRISM Health Clinic, an LGBTQ-focused clinic part of the Cascade AIDS Project and Outside In. This is an organisation that provides support for homeless LGBTQIA+ youth, emphasising their commitment to great marketing and serious action. 

Nike’s BeTrue campaign
Nike’s BeTrue campaign

QUEER BRITAIN X LEVIS X CHANNEL FOUR

This campaign between Queer Britain, Levis and Channel 4 formed part of the House Proud social media campaign launched by Queer Britain and is a great example of different industries cross-collaborating to deliver a successful Pride campaign. Filmed amidst the backdrop of the pandemic in 2021, the campaign’s objective was to document the stories of those from LGBTQIA+ households in the UK and the struggles they had faced in opening up whilst living at home. 

The ‘House Proudvideo takes a look at these stories through heart-warming interviews. The video delves into the intergenerational conversations of LGBTQIA+ households across the UK as they share their stories of pride, progress and activism while preparing for a photoshoot for the Queer Britain museum. Cross-industry projects can lose messaging, but the collaborative element of this campaign adds a unique appeal as the involvement of each company brings something valuable to the final product.  

SKITTLES

It would be remiss of us not to include the Skittles Pride campaign. Their ‘taste the rainbow’ slogan lends itself to obvious involvement in Pride campaigns, but their initial approach in 2017 was met with fervent backlash. Removing all colours from their packaging and replacing it with an all-white alternative saw accusations of racism levelled at the company. 

Others, however, argued that the exposure afforded by the virality of the campaign ensured that positive action for the LGBTQIA+ community was achieved, thus the creation of a successful marketing campaign. The brand did partner with the GLAAD Media Institute donating $1 per pack purchased, up to $100,000, and despite the reintroduction of the colourless packaging in subsequent years, the consensus remains very much divided on this campaign.

UGG

Ugg’s Pride campaigns are renowned for delivering, and the 2022 version is no exception. The brand has released an all-gender Pride range to promote this year’s theme that focuses on mental health. The mantra for their campaign is to ‘Feel Heard’, encouraging everyone to feel heard and feel safe to openly discuss the importance of mental health through listening and sharing their stories. 

Ugg has partnered with The Trevor Project, which provides 24/7 crisis services to LGBTQIA+ young people and is donating $125,000 to help their cause. The Pride landing page on the Ugg website has a sleek design, with the design encompassing the Feel Heard theme that is instantly emblematic at the top of the page. The placing of the contributor stories before the Pride collection illustrates the importance of the campaign’s message. 

UGG ‘Feel Heard’ Campaign
UGG ‘Feel Heard’ Campaign

NOW FOR SOME OF THE WORST OF PRIDE CAMPAIGNS

M&S

Committing a marketing faux pas with their 2019 instalment was M&S, with a different take on the classic BLT sandwich. The Lettuce, Guacamole, Bacon, and Tomato alternative was unconventional but regarded as a perfect salute to the LGBT acronym. The packaging was also branded with rainbow colours to add to the corporate box-ticking exercise. 

The campaign sought to raise money and awareness for two LGBTQIA+ charities, namely the Albert Kennedy Trust and BeLong to Youth Services, but despite this, the sandwich flattered to deceive. Aside from the lazy branding of the product, the sandwich is targeted towards a non-vegetarian/vegan community and ridicules the LGBT community by implicitly reducing it to an acronym on a sandwich. Needless to say, the sandwich has not returned since. 

NORWICH CITY

Pushing the boundaries of creativity can invite unwanted liability when things go askew, which is exactly what happened in the case of Norwich City Football Club. Their 2022 ‘A Home for Everyone’ campaign consists of a video displaying a wall daubed with numerous homophobic and transphobic slurs, with some letters censored by alternative symbols. During the video, the wall is then doused in coloured paint by Norwich staff and fans to cover up the mural. The campaign has certainly divided opinion, with many groups and fans condemning the amplification of such derogatory terms. 

Even the club’s own LGBT fans and friends group Pride Canaries, who were asked to be involved with the project, voiced their disapproval of the campaign, stating that, “Viewers, including those from our community, are subjected to the sight of a lexicon of slurs – regularly used to target LGBTQ+ people – for almost the entire duration of the production”. Ouch! To compound matters, a tweet publicising the campaign on social media claimed ‘this language is not okay, whilst simultaneously platforming the same language. It would be fair to say this campaign has scored a huge own goal. 

THE IMPORTANCE OF A SUCCESSFUL PRIDE MARKETING CAMPAIGN 

Successful pride campaigns can have a huge impact in promoting progressive stances against hate for brands and businesses. Pride branding that goes awry can have an abiding negative impact on how a particular brand’s message is interpreted within the public sphere, and ultimately how that entire brand is perceived as a result. Promoting messages correctly through marketing campaigns is critical to maintaining the credibility of your brand. 

Here at Digital Ethos, we can assist your business in creating marketing campaigns that are creative, progressive, and have maximum impact. Contact us today to find out more about how we can help build your campaign.

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