PRIDE 2020: How are brands getting involved?

Pride has grown from its roots as a protest against injustice, to being a movement – in some countries, at least – that celebrates the LGBTQ+ community, and is supported by allies. As it grew over the years, brands started getting involved – from traditionally LGBTQ+ aligned brands to high street retailers. Pride has become marketable.

But 2020 is far from a normal year.

Some brands are moving away from Pride this year

The pandemic has forced organizers to cancel traditional street parties, parades and club events – or to move them to digital platforms. Digiday reports that some brands have dedicated less budget to Pride because of this. They love the vibrancy of in-person live events and the ability these occasions have to attract an audience wider than the LGBTQ+ community itself. It’s not clear if the digital events will attract the same mixed audience.

We’re also seeing a huge amount of activism right now, and, according to AdAge,  some brands are shifting their attention to responding to #BlackLivesMatter in preference to supporting Pride or reworking their Pride campaigns. This shouldn’t be an ‘either, or’ decision. 

What are brands doing to celebrate Pride?

There’s the usual swathe of brands who are changing their logos to rainbow colors. Others are releasing Pride-themed products and donating money to LGBTQ+ charities. For example:

  • Apple released a rainbow sports band and an Apple Pride watch which will help raise funds for organizations like GLSEN, PFLAG, The Trevor Project, Gender Spectrum, ILGA World and the National Center for Transgender Equality.
  • Skittles says that “during Pride only #OneRainbow matters”, and it’s releasing colorless Skittles  For every Skittle Pride Pack purchased, Skittles will donate $1 to GLAAD.
  • Levi is using non-hetronormative people to showcase its latest collection.

But this year, Pride is returning to its protest roots. Trans rights and the rights of LGBTQ+ people of color are front and forward of this year’s campaign. So as Pride month comes to an end, we all have an opportunity to consider our roles in promoting equality and diversity year-round.

For example: 

  • How can brands diversify recruitment?
  • How can they make the company culture welcoming and inclusive? Work should be a place where people don’t feel that they have to hide their authentic selves. (For example, at The Social Element, we’re starting to add our gender pronouns into our email signatures. It’s one way we can show trans, gender fluid and non-binary team members and clients that we recognize their identity.)
  • How can the brand support the LGBTQ+ community on a more permanent basis?

This isn’t always an easy thing to do. In many countries, LGBTQ+ people are discriminated against in law. It’s easy to put a rainbow flag up in a shop window in the UK or the US, but how does a global brand fight for LGBTQ+  equality across the world? How does it advocate for and support the community, starting with its own employees, keeping them safe at work? 

Supporting Pride should be a year-round commitment.

Pride month, culminating in Global Pride on 27 June, is a great time to show your support publicly, and we have been fully supporting our clients who are running Pride-focused campaigns. But all campaigns should start with examining your own values. Do they match up? It is the combination of positive action and public support that will bring about lasting, positive change.

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