Can brands show Pride without a parade this year?

Contrary to the famous words of Diana Ross, this year, instead of coming out, it looks like we’ll all be staying in for Pride season.

Pivot your Pride budget, Daniel Glendinning advises brands (pic credit: Getty)
Pivot your Pride budget, Daniel Glendinning advises brands (pic credit: Getty)

But while physical Pride events have been cancelled, that won’t stop the LGBTQ+ community from celebrating – and the same should go for the brands who support us.

Here’s how brands should be showing Pride – even without a parade float to send down Oxford Street:

Somewhere over the (online) rainbow

The iconic rainbow symbol has found a new, hugely important meaning in 2020. But LGBTQ+ history with the rainbow flag dates back to the 1970s, and drag queens have been making outfits out of them ever since.

It may be the bare minimum, but the rainbow is a powerful symbol that makes a statement. LGBTQ+ people have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19, and we have a responsibility as marketers to represent them adequately. But if we’re going to do it, then we need to make it count – there’s no pot of gold at the end of a rainbow-filtered logo.

Pivot your Pride (budget)

Large gatherings might be cancelled, but drive-in raves are a thing now. The world is adapting to new ways of celebrating events and curing lockdown boredom, and while budgets are tight, you should use the limited cash you have to captivate the LGBTQ+ audience.

Alternative online celebrations, such as virtual parades, performances and more, are popping up everywhere, and there are so many creative ways that brands can be visible at them.

Time to shine (or glitter)

We’re seeing buyers both 'reward' and 'punish' brands with their response to the pandemic, meaning brands that actively support communities have the opportunity to strengthen their reputation – and their sales.

This means it’s time for your brand to do the right thing. It may feel like a ‘risk’ to take a loud stance in support of the community – but in 2020, it would be a risk not to. Budweiser took a left turn in the mainstream beer world when it launched its ‘Fly the Flag’ campaign in 2019 alongside sponsorship of London Pride – absorbing the London LGBTQ+ audience and beyond as new advocates as a result.

The (village) people do it best

There’s never been a more necessary time, to show your support for this country’s vast pool of grassroots queer talent. Drag queens around the UK are itching in their acrylics for a stage to perform on.

Tapping into the creative talent within the community allows you to shine a light on little-told stories and strengthen your brand’s loyalty with the community (and beyond). A great recent use of queer talent to storytell was Starbucks’ ‘What’s your Name’ ad campaign with Mermaids, a charity for trans and gender-diverse children and young people. It hugely benefited from an LGBTQ+ cast to strike the right tone.

In the words of Madonna: music makes the people come together. This year has taught us that pandemics do, too. The creativity of the LGBTQ+ community throughout this time should serve as a fountain of inspiration for marketers.

Daniel Glendinning is an account manager at Wire

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