Running a successful Pride campaign: The importance of authentic communications

For progressive brands that genuinely embrace the principles behind Pride Month, it is a chance to reaffirm a commitment to equality, showcase support for the LGBTQ+ community, and truly engage in constructive dialogue. Sadly, sometimes Pride Month is also cynically exploited by organisations that are content with a Facebook post referencing tolerance and equality – empty gestures which demonstrate a lack of understanding regarding the value of open and authentic communications. In the worst instances, there are brands that simply plaster a rainbow flag on their products in order to profit from the community and increase sales of reusable coffee cups.

The most successful Pride campaigns, however, all share one quality – authenticity. In this blog we look at some of the brands that have used authenticity to deliver a successful campaign.

1. Nike

Image of Nikes Pride Campaign

Nike’s BETRUE campaign began as an internal initiative in 2012, started by a group of employees pushing for equal access to sports. It was such a success that it grew into a public campaign in 2017 which involved adorning some of Nike’s popular footwear and apparel with the rainbow flag – as well as other prominent symbols of pride.

Whilst the visually pleasing designs were a hit, what truly underpinned the campaign was Nike’s commitment to using some of the funds raised to support the community, having already raised $2.5million in the US for LGBTQ+ causes. The campaign also tied in with the rest of Nike’s equality drive which has seen the brand take on issues such as the lack of the inclusion of Muslim women in sports.

2. Absolut Vodka

Absolut Kiss with Pride Campaign

Absolut Vodka has long been a supporter of the LGBTQ+ community featuring in gay and lesbian publications since 1981, as well as donating substantial amounts of money to LGBTQ+ charities. It is only fitting that the brand has had several iconic pride campaigns which have garnered substantial interest. Most famously the rainbow bottle, which is sold year-round and highlights the brands long-standing commitment to the community.

One of the most iconic campaigns Absolut has produced succeeds because of its simplicity. ‘Kiss with Pride’ is a campaign featuring images of same sex couples kissing, some of which are of couples from some of the 72 countries where same sex relationships are illegal.

The primary aim of the campaign was to drive conversation around the ongoing issues in the community, working with LGBTQ+ right charity Stonewall to construct a campaign with clear and purposeful messaging. What’s clearly authentic about the campaign is Absolut’s long-standing commitment to the LGBTQ+ community, which has been active long before it was the norm to support LGBTQ+ issues.

3. Oreo

Oreo Pride Campaign 2012 featured on social media

Oreo has supported the LGBTQ+ community for several years, even in the face of backlash from some of its core market. In 2012 the brand posted an image of the iconic cookie featuring layers of the rainbow flag on its inside, the poster whilst praised, also received substantial negative responses with calls to boycott the brand and its parent company Kraft. From those who supported Oreos messaging, there were calls to make the pictured product a reality.

Oreo never relented and so far the only way consumers have been able to get a hold of the rainbow inspired treat is through the #proudparent campaign – a campaign encouraging social media users to share a photo of what allyship means to them, and rewarding some users with a box of the limited release pride cookies. The campaign was done in partnership with PFLAG and was released alongside a series of short movies highlighting the proud parents of some LGBTQ+ people. This strategy gave the campaign a cohesive and strong message about acceptance and allyship. There is a general appreciation to Oreo for not over commercialising the pride cookies and putting them up for general sale – which likely would have proved quite profitable.

Building Authenticity

So how did these brands build an authentic message? It comes not just from these campaigns but the values and subsequent actions of the businesses behind them. Below are some of the ways these brands have built authenticity into communications.

  • Honouring their mission: Nike’s mission at its core is about equality ‘if you have a body, you’re an athlete’ and this message of equality transcends all their communications
  • Building relationships: Absolut have built their relationship with the LGBTQ+ community over a long historical period, their authenticity comes in part from their historical support.
  • Sacrificing short-term profit: Oreo could have profited significantly more from pride had they sold rainbow cookies, instead they took the opportunity to raise awareness and support the community.
  • Clarity: All the messages from these brands were unambiguous, the language was clear in their support for the LGBTQ+ community.

Why does it matter?

Authentic communications can be a vehicle that enables your brand to stand out. By communicating honestly and truthfully brands can build a rapport with an audience and strengthen their market positioning.

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