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Agencies Agency Leadership Pride

The marketing industry must stand out and stand proud (and not just in Pride month)

By Kostas Konstantinou | Creative Director Netherlands

1HQ Global


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July 10, 2023 | 7 min read

In some areas, the official Pride month has now ended – in others, like 1HQ’s Netherlands base in Amsterdam, it’ll arrive soon. Here, the agency’s Kostas Konstantinou outlines the urgency behind a new wider-than-Pride campaign.

A brightly-dressed person at a Pride march

How can brands and marketers 'stand out and stand proud' all year round? / Norbu Gyachung via Unsplash

“Happy Pride month!” they said. “It will be fun!” they said.

As June heralded the official start of the proudest month on the calendar (originally intended to honor and commemorate the Stonewall uprising in 1969), we found ourselves asking some ever-evolving, hard questions. Is Pride still relevant? How can we show our support? Can we shift collectively from protest to Pride?

This summer, through a Proud Campaign, 1HQ Netherlands and 1HQ Brand Agency have been reflecting on similar questions; attempting to create a space for awareness and meaningful impact. It started as a conversation at lunch, surrounded by shared dishes and half-full glasses, where we found ourselves openly discussing and actively listening.

The one thing we all share

We deduced that if there’s one thing that we all have in common, it’s that we are all different. At once, from that sentiment, there was an element of surprising relief. Relief in simplifying complexity; surprising that it was universally and effortlessly received. The conversation expanded to the notion of open minds, open hearts, respect, and kindness.

Ultimately, the debate revealed a disparity between words like ‘tolerance’ and words like ‘acceptance’. Thinking about these concepts in 2023 is inevitably fueled by discussions about banning literature and legislation minimizing people’s integrity.

As an agency, and in our work for various brands, we aim to achieve ‘meaningful difference’. That’s not just a duty, but an element of culture. Our Amsterdam office sits in one of the most open-minded and colorful communities in Europe, with a diverse team from all walks of life. So, as a collective, we set ourselves a task for meaningful impact, for the people.

Stand out, stand proud

Starting in June and all through the summer, we’ll be initiating sincere conversations with everyday people. We’ll explore personal testimonies of pride, acceptance, love, and the right to stand out. The campaign, called StandOut.StandProud, invites individuals to share their distinctive stories, aiming to amplify unheard voices; normalize diversity; and shape a powerful narrative. This narrative will manifest colorfully and boldly in the city of Amsterdam, through channels linked to our everyday lives.

Starting with a campaign on our social channels, we hope to elevate conversations that come from the heart and to reach those that may not be able to freely express their own hearts. We’ve set up an easy-to-complete questionnaire to help bring these stories to light, and to facilitate awareness, healthy debate, and recognition.

As we move into July and August, and as the animated parades and parties settle down, we will continue to initiate more conversations. Our Amsterdam office will host a vibrant wall of ‘Random Post-Its of Kindness’ displayed at our co-working space (at Fosbury & Sons). These handwritten notes will invite people to share thoughts, questions, and words of kindness with each other, ultimately creating what will be the most colorful wall in the city this summer.

A poster takeover will ‘dress up’ the city as we move into Amsterdam Pride in August, amplifying more messages of hope, pride, struggle, love and freedom. A selected list of Queer book titles, in collaboration with the American Book Centre, will be left in random locations around Amsterdam, with hidden messages inside for every reader. The intent is to reach out to all, to inspire awareness, learning and acceptance.

It's imperative that we ‘activate’ and share these voices, now more than ever, as we increasingly realize the need to demonstrate a firm alliance with queer people, and any underrepresented group within communities. If you’d like to be part of these voices, please help us by answering the questionnaire and be part of the StandOut.StandProud campaign. And be sure to like, share and tag us if you spot any of the activations @1hqbrandagency @1hq_netherlands. Your words will inspire and fulfill the campaign’s purpose. Your voice matters.

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