After years of relying on the ad industry’s charity, Pride in London, the organisation representing the LGBTQ+ community, has appointed its first agency roster in creative firm BMB and PR agency Eulogy as it maps out plans for 2018.
The volunteer-led group is best known for its landmark parade in London every year. Advertising in the lead up to it has historically been an ad-hoc affair, with its marketers taking whatever agencies and media owners will offer up.
Despite the obvious constraints, this has historically led to some impressive work, such as a day-long takeover of Channel 4, in which it reshot all of the programme idents through an LGBTQ+ lens.
“Essentially we used to just have to get as much as we could and do as much as be could," Iain Walters, director of marketing at Pride in London, told The Drum. "It was often going to agencies and suppliers and saying 'please can we have some spare space'. We don’t really have a budget, so we still do rely on gifts, but we’ve been able to develop a good relationship, which means we can plan a bit more strategically where we put our marketing and adverting."
He added: “This year we’re trying to put a focus on putting the community front and centre of the campaigns we’re going to do.”
And that has meant drafting dedicated agencies that will work with the brand on developing its marketing plan, not just for the main Pride event in June, but on a communications plan that will see it through the entire year.
Richard Wilcock, business director at BMB said the agency was “extremely proud be able to play a major role in the festival" and will develop “a distinct and disruptive creative campaign for 2018”. Meanwhile Elisabeth Field, managing director at Eulogy, echoed his sentiments, saying it was “a massive privilege” to be working with the group.
The introduction of permanent agency partners has also arrived alongside several key hires, including the the appointment of a director of communications in Asad Dhunna, an active member of the advertising industry's LGBTQ+ network, PrideAM.
Dhunna said this newly created role will be about “pulling marketing and communications together” and, more specifically, he’ll focus on understanding what people need from the organisation and reflecting that across its platforms.
"There are many people like me – a Muslim man in the LGBTQ+ community – whose voices aren’t necessarily heard and who we want to give a platform, as well as the wider community, who might not be LGBTQ+ but who we need to have conversations with," he said.
Meanwhile, Polly Shute, director of strategic partnerships, has been tasked with finding the right partners – both in commercial brands, media and individuals – to support Pride’s strategy for the year.
“Last year 11% of the parade was taken up by brands," she said. "For them Pride in London is one part of a year round commitment to support diversity and inclusion. For many brands the internal engagement and showing their support for the cause is just as important as engaging external audiences."
Starbucks, for example, provides space and refreshments for volunteer meet ups all year round, and law firm CMS has provided pro bono legal support for over five years.
Exactly how and when new partnerships are formed will come as the campaign and strategy are nailed with BMB and Eulogy over the coming months.
One place Pride in London may want to start is the ad industry. Today (6 February), UK advertising's LGBTQ+ network PrideAM called out creative and media sectors for failing to have a single company feature on the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index top 100 employers.
PrideAM called it “shameful” with Lara Kingsbeer, a spokesperson for the body, saying that “despite the industry’s attempts to drive diversity it seems no progress has been made in proving that the creative workplace is an inclusive space for the LGBT+ community.”