By The Drum, Editorial

May 30, 2024 | 4 min read

Winning Gold in The Drum Awards for Marketing APAC’s Disruption, Social Purpose, Charity or Not for Profit, and Grand Prix categories is Disney Star India’s Words of Pride - Reclaiming Respect with Language campaign. Here is the award-winning case study.

Disney Star Network, the nation’s storyteller, reaches over 700 million viewers monthly with 20,000+ hours of original content in nine languages. Present in households, families watch content together, giving us the power to shape narratives and tell inclusive stories that influence the heart of India.

However, how does one tell stories of everyone without the right words?


  • 1.44 billion Indians
  • 22 official languages
  • 700+ spoken languages
  • 0 words of respect for the ∼125M LGBTQIA+ folks used in daily parlance

The prolonged usage of derogatory and disrespectful verbiage towards the queer community has become a part of daily parlance and pop culture to the extent that most are unaware of the appropriate words that already existed in Indian languages since ancient times.

The unawareness of these words not only in English but also in their own mother tongue has led to further isolation within families and communities.

People’s native language makes them feel visible and closer to their identity, family, and society.

Hence, only language has the power to shape the world.

It’s beautiful how a list of words strung together can tell stories of people, cultures, and identities.

However, when language ignores issues of power and equity that shape people’s lives, it only foments further exclusion of marginalized people.

Because without the right words, how does one educate and overturn centuries of negative attitudes and perceptions?

The world is evolving, and it’s time our words did too.

Idea: Words of Pride - Reclaiming Respect through Language

A website glossary of 246+ respectful words in seven regional languages was launched on the 5th anniversary of the repeal of Section 377, detailed with pronunciations and example sentences.

150+ collaborators from the community, allies, collectives, language experts, linguists, writers, culture makers, and legal teams spent 30 months and 7000 hours of collective collaboration delving deep into historical and contemporary texts to uncover these respectful words.

To popularize them, educate, and influence India, we took these words to Disney Star’s content and shows, reaching over 700 million viewers monthly.

Bollywood’s biggest LGBTQIA+ persona, ace director Karan Johar (although his identity has never been confirmed), launched the campaign on social media, reaching a vast majority of Indians.

We also brought to life stories of 11 folks from the LGBTQIA+ community through short films across platforms, each highlighting their story and the part that language played in their journey.

Influencers from the community owned these words, urging people to learn and use them, creating a genuine sense of pride and allyship online.

Superstar Mohanlal, host of India’s biggest reality TV show Big Boss, spoke of it, coinciding with the Supreme Court of India releasing a handbook to combat gender stereotypes—a step that mirrored our ethos and amplified its message on a national scale.

The conversation was taken up with culture makers at Jaipur LitFest and the Advertising Standards Council of India, the largest governing body of advertising and communication in India.


  • In just four weeks, the campaign reached over 53.5 million Indians and garnered 55+ million video views, including 196.6K+ engagements.

  • Disney Star India’s website traffic jumped 171% over the previous month.

  • An impressive 45% of the views on the platform were organic, which is five times the industry benchmark, showcasing genuine interest and engagement from the community and wider society as well.

  • While other brands were getting lambasted for “tokenism” and being deemed “woke,” the campaign saw a 92% positive sentiment.

In an era characterized by evolving inclusivity, the ‘Words of Pride’ campaign stands as a potent catalyst for transformation.

Ready to get your work recognized on a global stage? Enter The Drum Awards today. Need more inspiration, read our Award Winning Case Studies.

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