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HSBC UK went behind the scenes with a drag queen at Birmingham Pride, here's why


By The Drum, Editorial

November 28, 2023 | 7 min read

HSBC UK has won the Brand Storytelling Category at The Drum Awards for Social Media. Here is the award-winning case study.

Here's is the award-winning activation.

Ever wondered what a Drag Queen gets up to at Birmingham Pride? Well, that’s exactly the story HSBC UK shared with social audiences this year.

Having transformed our HSBC UK organic social strategy to focus on featuring people and personalities in our output, it was the perfect platform for the world to meet the wonderful Nancy!

Nancy is HSBC UK colleague Josef; a member of staff for 11 years and an active member of our Pride Employee Resource Group (ERG) – a network of colleagues who work to create an inclusive environment for our lesbian, gay, bi and trans+ colleagues and customers, so that HSBC is a place they feel welcome and belong.

When he’s not working his day job in Compliance, Josef transforms into Nancy, the fabulous Drag Queen. Nancy is our hostess with the mostest, leading HSBC UK’s celebrations at our 500-strong colleague event; singing, dancing, and joking with the audience before joining our colleagues and jumping aboard the HSBC UK bus which led the 2023 Parade.

Telling Nancy’s story was the perfect way to celebrate our inclusive workforce with content by our colleagues, for the community, in a super creative way, that led to some benchmark-breaking results…

Objective HSBC UK has been the headline sponsor of Birmingham Pride for 5 years and the event forms an integral part of our D&I content output. Our coverage of this event on HSBC UK social media channels is key to our strategy: people, personalities, and places at the core of our output. The objective of our activity was to increase awareness of HSBC UK’s relationship with Birmingham Pride and community allyship and to humanise our brand by celebrating our people.

Strategy As a business, we value difference. We’re already leading in how we support LGBTQ+ colleagues and customers and we are building a truly inclusive business. We want to continue doing right for our customers and colleagues, making them proud to bank with and work for us, encouraging more to join.

Our campaign targeted 2 specific audience groups:

UK members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community on social media aged 18-35.

HSBC UK customers who are members or allies of the LGBTQ+ community.

We wanted our audience to:

Think - HSBC is a bank that values difference and stands against discrimination. They support the LGBTQ+ community in the UK.

Feel – Proud to bank with HSBC UK. They are the bank for me.

Do - Contact HSBC UK when they need support with banking needs. Tell their friends. Share our content.

We know from previous years of activity, our partnership with Birmingham Pride improves consumer sentiment and consideration. It also grows brand associations such as ‘proud to use’, and ‘supports the community’. It’s a robust proof of our support of the UK’s LGBTQ+ community.

So, how did we elevate our creative output this year to make our coverage of Birmingham Pride bigger and better than previous years? We put our colleagues at the heart of our narrative to help drive positive associations with our brand.

78% of UK TikTok users are aged 18-34 (data from TikTok), so we focused our output there – delivering a TikTok-first campaign celebrating our wonderful UK Pride ERG. Working together to do this enabled us to show up on social in a truly authentic way and we knew this would help to:

Evidence that HSBC UK is a true ally of the LGBTQ+ community to a large social media audience.

Build a strong connection with TikTok users, as social causes have a very captive audience on this platform.

Build colleague pride for the brand.

Our live event coverage strategy centred around the story of Nancy. Creatively we lent into the “Day in the Life” TikTok trend, telling the story of what a Drag Queen gets up to at Pride. The Pride UK ERG were so supportive of the idea, with a colleague voluntarily hand stitching a sequin Hex onto Nancy’s dress! Nancy’s debut has been included as an entry link with this submission.

As well as creating platform-specific content, we also invited 6 LGBTQ+ influencers to showcase Birmingham Pride as a guest of HSBC UK, producing 10 videos between them. Each influencer took a different approach to covering the event but all created content aligned to the creative style already on their channels e.g. ‘Get Ready With Me’ (Instagram and TikTok) or ‘Day In The Life’ (a couple’s first Pride (TikTok) and a child’s first Pride (Instagram). These different creative styles enabled HSBC UK to appear in an authentic way across the different topics covered. Our branding and references to it were subtle but clear (t-shirts, mics, etc). Our influencer content received over 1.5M views in the first 5 days, over 1,800 shares and 3,153 saves to date, all helping to expand our reach to a highly engaged audience.

To capitalise on audience interest at peak time, we moved quickly. Our “Day in the Life” content went live within 4 hours of being captured at Birmingham Pride across paid and organic and 5 influencer videos were captured, reviewed, and went live on the same day too. TikTok called this a “killer creative strategy”, noting we hit all platform best practices: durations / transitions / scripting / branding.

Results On TikTok our results were at least double all TikTok benchmarks across all our brand metrics! We knew this campaign and Nancy’s narrative was a perfect fit for the TikTok community as social causes have a captive audience on TikTok and it’s clear from these results that partnering with Nancy was a perfect match for HSBC. Of course, our long-term partnership with Birmingham Pride was a huge driver in its success, too.

Our support of Birmingham Pride also saw a positive impact on job applications. As Birmingham Pride was the end of May this year, we expected to see applications increase in June and they did.

We received incredible comments on our creative from platform and industry professionals about how we developed assets which cut straight into TikTok culture – showing up in an authentic way that respects the community:

“This sort of cut through is unheard of” - TikTok.

“This is the best we’ve seen in the Financial Services vertical” - TikTok.

“This had bigger ad recall across anything our agency has done” – Kepler, Media agency.

Combining Nancy’s story with content showcasing how HSBC UK are championing LGBTQ+ inclusion helped us evidence one of HSBC’s key values: that we value difference. The creative formats used, together with the output from our influencers enabled us to showcase something special and specific to HSBC UK, supporting our brand to show up and tell its story authentically on social media.

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