The Information to Delight Month Advertising and marketing
For most people, June is a month-long festival for the LGBTQ + community: a haze of parades and rainbows.
But Pride Month is so much more than that. Its history is rooted in the struggle of a long oppressed and persecuted community and it celebrates not only the people but also the struggle for rights and equality.
As part of our commitment to center, highlight, and celebrate underrepresented communities, we take the time to recognize Pride Month, especially given how closely the Black and LGBTQ + communities have always been intertwined.
Now is the time to learn about the history of pride. That is why we have put together some resources and some steps we all as marketers should take to ensure that we do justice to the LGBTQ + community. Because just hitting a rainbow on your product and calling it good won't cut it.
Here's your quick guide to Pride Month and how you should (and not) market it.
Why Pride Month? (A short story)
In the early morning of June 28, 1969, a police raid at the Stonewall Inn – a popular gay and lesbian bar in Greenwich Village – became violent and triggered a wave of unrest in this New York neighborhood.
The Stonewall riots marked the beginning of a new era of activism and liberation efforts and formed the basis for the modern struggle for LGBTQ + rights.
Some of those present during the Stonewall riots would become remarkable leaders in the movement. Marsha P. Johnson, an outspoken advocate for gay rights, was active in the Stonewall uprising and founded and inspired several LBGTQ + outreach and support groups.
Johnson and her close friend Sylvia Rivera, another major gay and trans-civil rights activist, founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), which provided shelter and support for gay, gender-neutral and transvestite homeless youth. STAR would also serve as the basis for other organizations that work for and support LGBTQ + groups.
In the years following the Stonewall riots, marches and parades were held in late June to commemorate that day. But Pride Month became what it is now when President Bill Clinton declared June “Gay & Lesbian Pride Month” in June 1999 and President Barack Obama each June he was in office as “LGBT Pride Month Designated.
Pride Month is now used to celebrate the LGBTQ + community and provides a louder platform for advocates and activists fighting for LGBTQ + civil rights.
But too often companies and businesses see this as an advertising opportunity that consumers can see through. To ensure that your Pride Month marketing works properly, we have some tips on what you do and what you don't.
Pride Month Marketing DOs (How To Do It Right)
Hire and pay LGBTQ + people for their work
Regardless of whether you use artwork from a LGBTQ + creative genius or consult with someone in a campaign, you must actively compensate them for their work. Mention the artist and link to his or her work or website and make sure the prices paid match those of other artists or consultants you work with. Also make sure that your hiring process goes beyond “non-discrimination” of new LGBTQ + hiring.
Center LGBTQ + Voices
This may mean presenting your LGBTQ + customers like this recent MeUndies campaign, or presenting more LGBTQ + creators on your social channels, similar to the # sharethemicnow posts. Remember to make sure you center your voices and not add them for a "diversity game".
Support queer organizations
Supporting queer organizations (such as those listed below) can mean donating your time, platform, or money to the cause. These are just a few ways to show your audience that you are putting your words into practice.
Search actively for intersectionality
No matter what you do, make sure you overlap and contain as many identities as possible. This is particularly important with Queer and Trans POC, which are often omitted. You want the greatest possible representation in your marketing efforts, both in creation and in creativity.
Start a Diversity Equity Inclusivity (DEI) group in your company
By making DEI a regular and central part of your company's conversations, you can help to further improve diversity, equity and inclusion, even if it is not on the calendar. It also shows your employees that you are committed to a better corporate culture.
Pride Month Marketing NOT (we can do better)
Don't just benefit from queer identities
Just avoid putting a queer person on a diversity game ad or working with LGBTQ + creators without paying them or mentioning their contribution.
Don't just make your products rainbow colored
Creating a rainbow product or changing your logo to a rainbow is often just a stunt. If you do not substantiate it with the actual work from the list above, your "statement" will be perceived as wrong and hollow.
Good Morning! We wish all brands starting a Pride campaign a happy June! A reminder: You are about to use our identity / marginalization for company profits !!! It is therefore worth thinking about your limited rainbow product !! Here, let me help !!! 💕 pic.twitter.com/uNCuGamiBQ
– Fran Tirado (@fransquishco), June 1, 2019
Avoid vague messages ("love is love")
While this type of news isn't actively harmful, it's better to focus your news on the larger, more specific issues that the LGBTQ + community is facing. Your messages should reflect the actual desire for meaningful changes.
Don't try to make money without involving queer organizations
Selling your rainbow product without contributing to strange nonprofits won't make a real difference and will signal to your customers that you care more about your paperback than the real meaning of Pride Month.
Don't stop on July 1st
June 30 may mark the end of the official Pride Month, but it is by no means the end of the struggle for LGBTQ + civil rights. And it shouldn't be the end of your advocacy and support for the movement. All of the recommendations above can and should be carried over to the rest of the year, as the real goal every day and at all times is diversity, justice and inclusion.