Four questions to ask your client before planning a Pride campaign
You might be wondering why we’re writing about how brands can approach Pride authentically, when Pride month has come to a close. Well, that’s kind of the point! While a slew of brands will have swiftly told their Social Media Managers to change their rainbow-ified logos back to regular brand colours on the 31st, there’s a much larger conversation happening about how brands could (and more importantly, should) take their championing of the LGBTQ+ community beyond the month of June.
For agencies working with clients on campaigns focused on the LGBTQ+ community, the key thing to ensure as an agency is that your clients aren’t just ticking a box and genuinely care about what they’re doing. Authenticity isn’t just a buzzword, it’s something every brand should practise.
That’s why we’ve devised 4 questions you can ask your client to help them understand how their brand, with your help, can best support the community, during Pride month and beyond.
1. How are you supporting the LGBTQ+ community within your company?
Long before you start campaign planning for Pride (or any activation that focuses on the LGBTQ+ community), every brand should ask themselves this question. Before you do anything else, reflect on how current policies, hiring processes, charitable donations and internal education are, or as the case may be, are not, supporting the community.
Why is it important?
The simple fact is that performative allyship just doesn’t cut it with consumers anymore.
We’re all more clued up on terms like rainbow washing now, and consumers can spot inauthenticity a mile away. Slapping a rainbow on your logo, when internally your organisation has donated money to charities that actively harm the LGBTQ+ community, or the existing policies do nothing to protect the rights of your LGBTQ+ employees, is simply not enough - and it never was! Change begins at home.
2. Do you know what you’re talking about?
There’s no point speaking on LGBTQ+ issues if you haven’t taken the time to educate yourselves. Brands have big voices and how they choose to use it is important when it comes to issues around diversity and inclusion. As for agencies, when we’re advising clients on how to approach Pride, it is vital that everyone knows what they’re talking about.
In order to approach Pride and the LGBTQ+ community authentically, you need to be speaking from a place of understanding and empathy. LGBTQ+ people are systematically oppressed in our society, and the community as a whole are still vastly underrepresented. It can be as simple as understanding the significance behind the pride flag colours, the terminology for different sexualities and gender identities.
Education is non-negotiable if you want to connect with LGBTQ+ people on an empathetic and authentic level.
3. Why do you want to support the LGBTQ+ community?
It seems like a silly question, but the answer is crucial. Does your client want to show solidarity with the community? Raise money for LGBTQ+ charities? Or do they just want to make money? One of those things is not like the others, and if the only goal your client has for participating in Pride is because they want to make money, then there’s little hiding from the opportunistic nature of any campaign, and scrutiny from the community should be expected.
From an agency perspective it’s important to reflect on whether the values of your clients are aligned with yours. If your client wants to run an ambassador campaign with members of the LGBTQ+ community, but you know that they have no intention of continuing support or donating to relevant charities, can you as an agency honestly advise your client to go ahead with that campaign when you know it is likely to read as inauthentic?
Not every brand is positioned to speak on behalf of the community, there’s plenty of internal work that can be done to support LGBTQ+ people behind the scenes, and throughout the year that doesn’t hinge on a huge Pride campaign. It’s not appropriate for every brand to post carousels explaining the importance of pronouns, but if they do want to create that kind of content for their brand channels - ask them why. If they aren’t serious about adding value to the cause, then they run the risk of coming across as opportunistic to consumers and losing trust.
4. How will you take the momentum from Pride and take it into the months beyond?
This is the big one! You’ve established with your client what they’re doing internally, why they want to support the LGBTQ+ community and you’ve done some learning on relevant topics. Maybe you’ve even implemented a Pride campaign and seen great success from engaging with the community on an authentic level. So what next? It’s a question a lot of agencies and brands will be asking themselves right now.
The short answer is to keep doing everything you’ve been doing. Continue to educate yourselves internally and share that with your communities, keep championing LGBTQ+ rights, keep donating to charities. Continue working with LGBTQ+ people throughout the year, on projects that potentially have absolutely nothing to do with their sexuality. The advice really is that simple.
We live in a time where brand transparency and authenticity is of increasing importance to the consumer, and the best way to help your client grow their own communities is to advise them to continue to reflect, learn and grow themselves, so that any content or campaign they produce comes from a place of genuine authenticity.
We won’t always get it right, but in order to meet the expectations of the consumer and hold ourselves accountable, we must continue to strive to create a considered, inclusive and empathetic approach to all campaigns, particularly those directed at underrepresented groups, that go beyond a single month or day of the year.
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