A Pride campaign by a bunch of straight people? Sure, Jan

I don't want to be 'that guy' complaining about Pride campaigns – I'm in awe of brands that get it right and I don't want to shame anyone into wanting to show support, but…

Don't stick a rainbow on it and call it allyship, warns Rowan Adams
Don't stick a rainbow on it and call it allyship, warns Rowan Adams

Hrrrrrnk! This is the annual reminder that if you are working on a Pride-specific campaign, please make sure those behind the scenes are one of the letters you’re aiming to connect with.

That’s the bare minimum entry requirement.

Speaking to (and paying for) the right person is just as important. The JAE who is pissed The Saturdays didn’t get a shoutout at The Brits doesn’t mean they are the one to lead a historic campaign addressing Section 28 and how it may make sense to have a rainbow flag on a sandwich.

At the other end of the scale, a comms veteran is probably not the right person to be the only voice in the room for a Gen-Z-heavy campaign about safe spaces in nightclubs.

Like everything we do, it’s important to have the right people in the room to deliver the best outcome.

Pride is consistently treated as a carnival, or a drive-thru zoo, for brands, and then left the hell alone for the other 11 months of the year. Accusations of ‘pinkwashing’ this month – a hideous term – now lack potency and lead to eye rolls, whether you see them or not.

It just makes sense that if you’re going to speak to an audience, don’t leave them on read while you’re busy doing the next press office story.

And it’s not like there aren't hooks to weave us in throughout the year. You’ll find us walking among you all the time, and that includes on Father’s Day, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day – but mostly, we’ll haunt your dreams for Halloween.

To paraphrase a saying; Pride comms campaigns are a bit like Saturday Night Live sketches – for every banger, there are a slew of barely-tittering amusements.

But who is doing a good job?

House music supremos Defected and their Glitterbox brand is a masterclass in inclusivity, and it's because they have gone back to the root of what they are – for want of a better word – selling.

Music born out of black, queer sweatboxes is never forgotten in their comms and presentation. They celebrate the culture's DNA – and what's even better: they move the story on.

Go to a Glitterbox event and you're shoulder-to-shoulder with boys maybe seeing fellas snog for first time, or girls realising their make-up look stems from a queer artist. Go on their social channels and see representation across the board.

Glitterbox doesn’t tick the boxes, it has made space for everyone without alienating anyone.

I’d like to see more campaigns that focus on the intersectionality of the spectrum, too. Many campaigns target me (a white man), leaving a void for those addressing the other lives that are boiled down into a letter soup.

I’m pretty sure most people reading this have been in a meeting where vague caricatures of Dinkies (a gross acroynm widely used for gay couples who are double-income-no-kids) have been either referred to as ‘low-hanging fruit’ or ‘future allies’.

Do those brands know ‘we’ use the internet for more than Grindr and checking the weather in Mykonos? The receipts on your allyship will be exposed, and it will be a painful climbdown – but I am guessing any backlash will be positioned at the back of the wash-up reports, under ‘Learnings’.

Corporates: please turn up for the community and leave out the CSR-flag waving trip to Pride this year.

Rowan Adams is co-founder and managing partner of Play


Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in