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Marketing to the LGBTQ Community Can’t Just Be a Gimmick

June 27th, 2019   ||    by Oriana Schwindt

With 2019 marking the 50th anniversary of the LGBTQ movement’s beginning at the Stonewall Inn in New York City, a veritable vortex of marketing to the LGBTQ community has formed.

As social mores change, so do marketing strategies. Not only do more companies—and larger companies, at that—feel able to throw their weight behind Pride Month sponsorships, but the creative content of their marketing is changing to be more inclusive of these groups.

However, that doesn’t mean that all these efforts are successful. A YouGov poll of online Americans found that half of them view companies’ Pride-related merchandise or content as a “marketing tactic,” according to eMarketer. And though 71 percent of the survey’s gay and lesbian respondents said they were more likely to do business with a gay-friendly company, only 57 percent said they were “much more likely.”

The YouGov poll results are a chastening reminder that marketing to the LGBTQ community cannot simply be marketing. Companies that want to reap the benefits of LGBTQ customers’ patronage need to show they’re also making an effort to support LGBTQ equality in ways that matter, particularly during Pride.

So, what are some examples of companies getting Pride right?

1. Absolut Vodka

Absolut has long been a supporter of the LGBTQ community. While the company definitely ups its game during Pride, global marketing manager Stephen Brown told The Drum that companies that don’t want to field accusations of exploiting Pride can avoid that by being inclusive in their creative year-round.

“If you’re launching a product and there are two people kissing within that product shot, do they have to be straight?” Brown said. “It’s very simple, it’s just representation rather than it’s a gay advert.”

2. Harry’s

In this Harry’s ad praised by Inc., a wide variety of men choose to shave or not shave, or shave just a bit. Among them is a man with scars on his chest, otherwise no different from the others. That’s the point: to make the inclusion of a trans man who’s undergone top surgery in a major ad campaign a truly normal thing.

This matter-of-fact representation earned Harry’s plenty of kudos from the LGBTQ community as the future of advertising, Pride reported. Not showy, not pandering, but simply a natural part of the campaign.

3. KIND

KIND is selling an exclusive Pride bar. At first, this looks like a classic case of a company simply slapping a rainbow pattern onto its wrapper and expecting praise. But 100 percent of the money made from selling these bars will go to support the Ali Forney Center, according to NOSH.

The Ali Forney Center offers support and services to LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness, and has grown from just six beds in a church basement in 2002 to an organization that helps 1,400 of these youth per year. This is a perfect example of a brand truly putting its money where its mouth is.

These are just a few examples to show that setting your brand’s logo against a rainbow is no longer enough. Your brand needs to show consumers that you are not just marketing to the LGBTQ community—your business fully supports social progress and their rights as human beings.

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