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Anheuser-Busch Pride Month Pride

‘Stand your ground’: Adland calls on brands to keep Pride promises in face of backlash

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By Sam Bradley, Journalist

June 5, 2023 | 6 min read

Scores of agencies and industry lobby groups have endorsed a call for brands to stick by commitments made to the LGBTQ+ community.

Pride flags

Over 60 advertisign organizations have called upon brands to face down a mounting conservative backlash / Unsplash

64 advertising agencies, charities and industry organizations have backed an open letter calling on brands to hold fast to LGBTQ+ commitments.

Outvertising, an industry advocacy group promoting LGBTQ+ inclusion within advertising, published a letter today calling on brands to “stand your ground” as Pride month commences.

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The letter reads: “Anti-LGBTQIA+ groups are relentlessly attacking brands that demonstrate allyship with our community. As part of their efforts to halt and roll back LGBTQIA+ inclusion in society at large, these fringe groups are attempting to erase our community in the media, including in the ads people see.

“The trans+ community are weathering the brunt of this targeted campaign of hate and they must be protected. But this hate is not limited to our Trans+ friends – the whole LGBTQIA+ community are feeling the effects. There’s no room for performative gestures or empty commitments in 2023: love is love, but money talks.”

The letter has been endorsed by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA), Isba, the Advertising Association, Stonewall, Nabs and Wacl. Agencies backing the letter include Ogilvy, Grey London, Dentsu, VMLY&R and Publicis.

The statement follows a mounting right-wing backlash directed at brands actively participating in Pride month. In the United States, Anheuser-Busch attempted to distance itself from a partnership with influencer Dylan Mulvaney while Target moved to hide and withdraw products from a range of Pride-themed party gear, both following conservative protests.

Marty Davies, joint chief executive officer of Outvertising, said “Our community urgently needs brands to deliver on their promises of allyship. Anti-LGBTQIA+ groups want to see our community erased from the media, including in our advertising.

“Our industry is being tested. Advertisers need to show courage and run their Pride campaigns. Politicians have given ground. The media has given ground. We can’t afford for business to give ground, too.”

The letter goes on to include advice to brands concerned about a conservative reaction to Pride activations. It reads:

“How to stand your ground:

  • Brands with Pride ads: run them.

  • Brands working with LGBTQIA+ talent: protect them.

  • Brands with Pride event plans: keep them.

  • Brands with Pride products: display them.

  • Brands with rainbow logos: back up this declaration with meaningful actions.

  • Brands that come under attack: brave the backlash.

  • Brands with media spend: invest in media that match your values. Divest from media that spread disinformation.

“The LGBTQIA+ community will not be silenced and we will not be erased. Our community will remain visible. LGBTQIA+ people belong in ads. Trans+ people belong in ads.

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“This is a time that calls for commitment and courage. If your brand’s allyship comes under attack this Pride Month, we advise you not to waver in your resolve because of a hateful few. Your action can be made in the sound knowledge that you have the majority behind you. Two in three under-60s (66%) think it’s important to fight discrimination against LGBTQ+ people.“

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