CAMPAIGNS: EVENTS; Pride fails to win over mainstream

Client: The Pride Trust PR Team: In-house and Jane Howard PR Campaign: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride ’96 Timescale: April - July ’96 Budget: pounds 12,000

Client: The Pride Trust

PR Team: In-house and Jane Howard PR

Campaign: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride ’96

Timescale: April - July ’96

Budget: pounds 12,000

Pride ’96 on 6 July, marked the silver jubilee of gay rights activism in

Britain. The annual march and festival has always gained extensive

exposure in the gay media. To redress the homophobia and limited after-

the-event coverage by the ‘straight’ media in the past, The Pride Trust

decided in March to hire Jane Howard PR for this year’s event.


To celebrate and raise widespread awareness of gay rights and the event,

with specific emphasis on females, males who are under the age of

consent and those living outside London.


With the silver jubilee in mind, the Trust and Jane Howard PR chose the

theme of ‘Generations of Activism’ to promote the event, while

highlighting the event as the largest free one day festival in Europe.

Sponsorship was gained from companies ranging from Levi’s and Absolut to

Virgin Megastores, all seeking the loyalty of the pink pound. On the

day, in addition to partial sponsorship of the stage, United Airlines

gave all the festival stewards a free airline lunch, while Dr Marten’s

in association with The Body Shop set up a foot massage parlour.

Jane Howard PR decided on an issues-based campaign, for the mainstream

media. This peaked in June when the Guardian, the Independent and

Independent on Sunday ran a range of articles and features on issues

from pink cocktails to Aids.

Music titles DJ and Select carried features on performers such as the

Irish gay band 4Guyz, while in the week prior to the event, Radio 4

Woman’s Hour featured an interview with Angela Mason of Stonewall - the

gay rights lobbying and campaigning organisation.


Organisers estimate that 70,000 people marched from Hyde Park past the

Houses of Parliament to Victoria, and 160,000 attended the subsequent

festival on Clapham Common, including a significant number of presumed


The campaign generated 110 million opportunities to see, according to

Jane Howard PR account director Rhona Harrison. News coverage on the day

ranged from London News Service and Newsroom Southeast - reporting from

both the march and the festival - to BBC 1 News and the BBC World


While satellite channels such as Live TV and MTV featured interviews

with Pride directors and performers, interest from the music press was

perhaps dampened by the mainstream appeal of the artists. Regional

coverage however, was gained from various media including the Daily

Record and Radio Nottingham which ran a four- week series.


The campaign gained some very good coverage in the run-up and on the

day, addressing diverse gay issues. However, mainstream press coverage

in the aftermath was not as extensive as perhaps the organisers had

hoped. What there was, carried little emphasis on serious gay issues -

the Guardian ran a fashion item on 10 July, headlined ‘Glad to be grey’.

‘This year was not much of a touchstone,’ said Paul Clements, editor of

the Pink Paper. ‘There was no real news hook for the mainstream media,’

he added.

However, with donations up by pounds 10,000 on last year and sponsors

United Airlines intending to increase their level of involvement next

year, the Trust have already signed up Jane Howard PR for Pride ’97.

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