When the ad for the new iPhone 7 was introduced in early September, many of us here at the Printsome office praised/critiqued the new features like the wireless headphones and it being water resistant. A few also noticed how the video casually featured a gay couple going through pictures on the new gadget — and most importantly, how it wasn’t newsworthy.
While I would like to believe that this is progress in terms of social issues (and in some way, it is) the truth is a bit colder than that. Companies will always align themselves with the beliefs of their target audience, and as it is the case with Apple and many others, this means Millennials. This generation tends to be more progressive in terms of gay rights (they’re far more likely to support same-sex marriage, for example) and more importantly a recent study, in the UK, revealed that 49% of people between the ages of 18 and 24 identify themselves as something other than heterosexual.
What does this mean to the marketer?
It means that now, more than ever, it is safe to cater to this niche audience without the risk of alienating a more “traditional” target. A niche audience that is loyal to brands and usually has a bigger disposable income.
While having brands cater to LGBTQ audiences may seem like something new, some may be surprised to learn that brands like Subaru and IKEA were already doing it back in the early 90’s — a time when products wouldn’t dare associate themselves with the rainbow flag. As some may realise, controversy can still arise with these types of campaigns, but the difference between now and then is that nowadays brands can benefit from that sort of noise instead of it being a nail in the coffin.
So in order to celebrate this “new” trend in the world of advertising, we’ve gathered seven of the best advertising campaigns of recent years that feature and/or cater to LGBTQ people.
Hilton’s “Stay Hilton. Go Out.”
Hotel chain Hilton’s “Go Out” campaign was a huge hit because they managed to tie in current events to their ads as well. Let’s back up and explain. They created an LGBT-friendly campaign geared towards staying at their hotels, with the slogan “Stay Hilton. Go Out.”
On top of that, they held a wedding reception for Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo. You’re probably wondering – Who? Paul and Jeff are the plaintiffs for the Supreme Court Case in the U.S. that dealt with Proposition 8, which was all about the right to same-sex marriage.
Hilton’s social media game was on point, too. They shared tons of photos and messages all being supportive of equal rights for LGBT people. Of course, it didn’t hurt that they set up a photo booth at the reception to help people take pics to share online!
American Eagle Outfitters’ “Help me imagine”
This billboard was simple but effective – it featured LGBTQ youth holding up big signs that had what they wished their families would say written on them (messages like “you are loved”). Next to the picture was information about how to text the Hetrick-Martin Institute to make a donation. The institute is a non-profit that helps at-risk gay youth.
Oh, and did we mention that this ad was in none other than Times Square? It was 15,000 feet tall!
Not only did this ad send young LGBTQ people caring messages, but it also helped collect a lot of money.
Android’s “Android: And Proud”
Google reeled a short but sweet video for Android that featured cartoons of famous LGBT people and allies dancing together in pride-themed outfits to a boppy tune at a parade. There were drawings of Tom Daley, Jessie J, Sir Ian McKellan, Conchita Wurst, Sam Smith, Kylie Minogue, Tyler Oakley, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and more. Their names popped up followed by “and proud.”
There were also drawings of depicting everyday regular people. Then the message “Let’s party for pride” pops up, followed by “Be together. Not the same.”
Users could then “join” the parade by creating an Android cartoon of themselves. Some of these user characters got put on the floats at the official Pride celebration call over the world. It was short but sweet, and definitely effective.
Lloyds Bank’s “For your next Step”
A commercial featuring a sentimental proposal – nothing new, right? Except, in this case, the proposal was a male same-sex couple. We hope the day arrives when a same-sex proposal is seen as nothing new, too! But unfortunately, that’s not the case today, which is why Lloyds Bank’s commercial stood out as a strong message.
On top of the commercial, Lloyds walked the walk, too. They were named the #2 top LGBT employer for 2016 by Stonewall, a gay rights charity, for their major efforts to be more inclusive and supportive of LGBT people in the workplace.
AT&T’s “This is Me”
We were just talking about inclusiveness being important, and that’s exactly the message AT&T sent with this video for Pride. They showed all sorts of different LGBT couples in everyday settings, like introducing their partner to their parents and taking silly selfies together.
They did an awesome job of letting their products take a step back and letting the message at hand take centre stage.
Oreo’s rainbow cookies
These rainbow Oreo photos are absolutely adorable — too bad they don’t actually exist in real life! And it was also too bad that there was a backlash in the comments section from people saying they would never be buying Oreos again. That just goes to show why Pride is still so important.
These Oreos are actually still receiving comments from people over three years after the photos were published. So it also goes to show that something simple can mean a lot and have a bit impact.
This is another instant classic anti-hate campaign. The campaign started back in 2008 in response to Proposition 8, an amendment in California that passed to ban same-sex marriage. Celebrity photographer Adam Bouska teamed up with his partner Jeff Parshley to photograph people with duct tape over their mouths and “NOH8” painted on their cheek to protest the law. Now, there are over 55,000 people, both famous and not, who have participated in the campaign.
One of the ways they spread the word about the project was by selling T-shirts with the logo on as well. You can buy them from their official store if you’d like one, too!
McDonald’s “Come as you are”
Released back in 2010 in France, the TV ad made history for several reasons. First, it was a major fast food company that usually caters to an underage audience and second, it was tastefully done. Usually, ads that talk about gay men and their romantic interests centre around their sexuality, while this one just featured the boy’s relationship with his father.
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