Authentic LGBTQ+ marketing: Mastercard, Virgin Atlantic, Foundation Émergence, Lloyds

Authentic LGBTQ+ marketing: Mastercard, Virgin Atlantic, Foundation Émergence and Lloyds

World Pride Month may be gone for another year but that doesn't mean we can't continue to celebrate truly authentic LGBTQ+ content.

One of the three pitfalls of advertising to the community is that many brands don't effectively and authentically represent the community they are targeting. They're riding the Pride bandwagon.

The Drum caught up with five industry experts from Absolut Vodka, AnalogFolk, U Account, Vice and ClickOn Media on what they believe are genuine LGBTQ+ campaigns.

Gemma Knox, managing director, Northern Europe, Virtue Worldwide at Vice: Mastercard - True Name

Brands have a responsibility to contribute to culture, not leach from it. Brands should respect and work with the world they want to help change for the better, not distract from it. With that in mind, there wasn’t a huge amount of LGBTQIA+ work to choose from, because marketing is really, really good at appropriating culture.

There are so many issues facing the LGBTQIA+ community that need recognising, not just highlighting during Pride month. One such issue for many in the LGBTQ+ community is that the name on their credit or debit card doesn’t reflect their true identity. As a result, particularly for the transgender and non-binary communities, a credit or debit card can misrepresent their true identity when going about daily life.

In the US, Mastercard has impressed me with their commitment to making an enduring change by introducing the True Name™ card that will allow for true names, not dead names to appear on cards without the requirement of a legal name change.

Stephen Brown, global marketing manager, Absolut Vodka: Lloyds - For Your Next Step

Authenticity can be wildly different directions to different people. As someone who isn’t within an LGBTQ+ community, but an ongoing ally, I feel my interpretation isn’t as crucial as those who have been fighting the ongoing injustices towards them.

However, from a creative perspective, I wholly believe that authenticity comes from a truly realistic portrayal. Leaving stereotypes at the door. Showing consumers that underneath all of these persona’s that you’ll find across mainstream media. We are all just human. We are all ‘Dave from Dagenham’.

Banking advertisements can be a chore, but Lloyds do a fantastic job with their iconic black horse. They do an even better job of humanising different types of people that perhaps aren’t fully understood by the general public. ‘For Your Next Step’, from 2016, is what modern advertising should be. Showcasing the amazing diversity of real life has but also that our feelings and emotions all beat from the same heart.

Lee Brooks, head of marketing, U Account: Foundation Émergence - The Pride Shield

There are so many brands that profess to ‘support’ the LGBTQ+ community, yet all they do is change their logo once a year to the rainbow flag. Supporting such an important cause needs to be much, much more than that. Brands need to prove how and why they are supporters.

One campaign that has stood out for me recently was created in 2018 by one of my favourite creative agencies, Rethink. On behalf of Foundation Émergence, Rethink created ‘The Pride Shield’ for the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. It was a 193-layer LGBT flag (one for every country in the world). Together, all the flags create a bulletproof shield. It demonstrates that if we all stand together against violence against the LGBTQ+ community we can stop it once and for all.

The rainbow flag has become such a powerful symbol. As a much-needed symbol of love and hope in today's world, we need to make sure that we aren’t trivialising it by using it for decoration. It has to come with a deeper meaning, a drive to enforce change.

Ete Davis, managing director, AnalogFolk: Stonewall - Alexa, come out for LGBT

For years, many brands have focussed on Amazon as part of their omnichannel strategy. Alexa adds another dimension to Amazon, which is challenging for brands as they try to understand how Alexa fits into the customer journey, how to develop their sonic branding and how to navigate interaction behaviours to ensure their brand, products and services are the ones customers are served first when they engage with Alexa.

Amidst all of this, brands have lost sight of the fact that how people currently interact with Alexa is slightly different from how they interact with the wider Amazon platforms and services — it’s less about commerce and consumption and more about entertainment and information.

Alexa is perfect for people seeking information, which is really the primary need people have for a home assistant. What’s great about this campaign is that it focuses exactly on that need; by providing information and support to the LGBTQ+ community and its allies, reaching people predominantly in the ‘safe spaces’ of their homes, which is extremely important for some ethnic and religious communities in the UK.

For me, it’s a terrific example of how technology can be used for good and how brands can authentically and effectively support an underrepresented community. It’s a great case for brands and agencies to learn that as we move to ever increasingly personalised forms of communication, brands have a responsibility to provide value to their customers and help them with their needs beyond simply commerce and consumption.

John Parker, director of creative partnerships, ClickOn Media: Virgin Atlantic - Pride Flight

I come from an earned media background so for me a great campaign can't just be sleek visuals or snappy copy, the story at the heart of the campaign has to be engaging, exciting or in this case fun.

LGBTQ+ issues are extremely complex and also very serious, however, at the heart of all these issues is a community who like any group of people also want to have fun. I love the fact that this campaign raised awareness of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots but also because it was a celebration.

There are a great many brands who show support for the LGBTQ+ community but it's great to see one who hasn't just adopted the rainbow flag for a few weeks, they positioned the community at the heart of their campaign and at the heart of their business, then celebrated alongside them. Where Virgin Atlantic really won and where many brands could take note is that they focussed on creating a fun, engaging and issues focussed campaign with the LGBTQ+ community at its core, but one that everybody wanted to join in with regardless of their sexual orientation.

Brooks, Brown and Davies are all judges for The DADI Awards and Knox and Parker for The Drum Content Awards. Both deadlines are fast approaching, make sure you submit your application before July 5 for The DADI Awards and August 2 for The Content Awards.

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