‘RuPaul takes a bite of Snickers’, and other ads made over through an LGBTQ+ lens

RuPaul for Snickers?

The biggest agencies and brands in ad land have proved that using the LGBTQ+ community in advertising creative is not only possible, but powerful, as part of PrideAM’s Brand Makeover.

The challenge set by the support network for LGBTQ+ advertisers and marketers aimed to remove barriers in casting non-cis, non-heterosexual people in adverts, either in an understated, normalised fashion or a more overt, stereotype-smashing sense.

The idea arose when PrideAM was in the research stages of its white paper (aptly named ‘Outvertising'), and discovered that it was a sheer fear of getting it wrong that prevented brands and agencies from including more LGBTQ+ characters in their creative.

“We heard time and time again that marketers and their agencies feared one slip up and the accompanying Twitterstorm,” said Asad Dhunna, spokesperson for PrideAM. “That's why we made the Pride Brand Makeover all about de-risking the process for everyone: it was free to enter, the work didn’t have to run, we didn’t expect finished concepts and absolutely anyone could enter."

A total of 24 entries rolled in, split between signed off work that had previously run and creative still in the concept stages.

Last week (1 November) saw five entries given special recognition from the Brand Makeover’s panel of judges. Their targets consumer ranged from chocolate eaters, to new parents, to military recruits, but all were underpinned by a thoroughly modern representation of the LGBTQ+ community.

Age UK by Drum

This poster is an iteration of Age UK’s ‘No-one Should Have No-one' campaign, featuring ‘David, 79, widowed after the death of his partner Simon’. The creative was designed to focus on a demographic within the LGBTQ+ community often neglected: older people not in ownership of the so-called Pink Pound.

“Isolation for older LGBT+ people is a big concern because it is two-fold,” the entry read. “Not only isolation from the heteronormative and potentially prejudiced world at large, but also isolation from the LGBTQ+ community, with real life LGBTQ+ spaces being eroded and a scene dwindling in the face of phone apps.”

The judges labelled the work as particularly brave, given the presumed conservative nature of Age UK beneficiaries and supporters.

The British Army by Karmarama

Karmarama’s work for the British Army ran during Pride in London this summer. Khaki camo cream was reframed with a rainbow palette and distributed to more than 1,000 supporters of the annual parade. The experiential execution was supported with an eye-catching poster campaign highlighting the Army’s support of LGBTQ+ recruits.

“If the army can do it, anyone can do it,” commented one of the judges.

Lloyds Bank by Adam&Eve/DDB

The campaign ‘For Your Next Step’, which Lloyds launched last year, featured a diverse mix of customers in all stages and walks of life. Particularly prevalent among selection of posters produced was a shot of two gay men getting engaged (‘He said yes’), while Adam&Eve/DDB reimagined the campaign further with a toddler walking with his two mums, and shots of transgender and gender non-binary customers.

The work is a fine testament to Lloyd’s status as an inclusive organisation; it claimed the number one spot on Stonewall’s 100 Employers Survey.

Snickers by AMV BBDO

AMV BBDO subverted its own ‘You’re Not You When You’re Hungry’ campaign with the inclusion of iconic drag queen RuPaul. The starlet is seen helping on a DIY project, but after she doesn’t prove to be much help, her friend suggests she eat a bar of Snickers.

While previous campaigns saw Joan Collins transform into a butch bloke after a hit of chocolate, RuPaul becomes even more fabulous – her heels are 10 times higher, her hair 10 times bigger and her dress 10 times more fabulous’. She straightens the shelf for her construction partner as the line reads: ‘Snickers. You’re not you when you’re hungry’.

"Snickers is all about being yourself and we felt that was a really exciting place to explore,” said Rosie Arnold, creative partner and head of art at AMV BBDO. "Also the whole campaign was launched in the UK using Joan Collins appearing as a diva. We were saying when you’re not yourself, you’re a diva. But we faced in to that and said, that’s not a bad thing – it should be something we celebrate."

The judges implored the agency to produce the ad, and the concept is now being discussed with AMV BBDO’s client, Mars.

Tommee Tippee by MRM Meterorite

MRM Metorite reimagined the baby brand’s online content series, where every parent featured is assumed to be straight. It proved that when it comes to night-time feeds, messy dinnertimes and early toilet situations, the conversation does not change in the slightest when replacing hetero parents with LGBTQ+ partnerships.

“Now we can truly say that Tommee Tippee helps all parents feel like they aren't on this crazy, messy and amazing journey alone,” said the agency.

Katie Deighton

Katie Deighton is The Drum’s senior reporter - creative and video based in London. She produces, films, presents and edits the title’s editorial video output, including series such as On The Scene, Ad Breakers and Why I Left Advertising, and manages its coverage of the creative sector. She also reports on the intersection between politics and marketing, as well as the third sector and fashion.

All by Katie