‘Brands must do more on LGBT representation’ argues Pride as it launches first ever TV ads

Pride In London will team up with Channel 4 to launch the TV campaign as both look to mark the 50 years since Parliament first voted to start legalising homosexuality.

Some of the OOH posters for Pride In London’s ‘Love Happens Here’ campaign

Annual festival Pride in London believes the advertising industry still has a “long way to go” on LGBT representation, and is urging brands to help combat a recent rise in gay hate crimes.

On Saturday (24 June), Pride In London will launch four 30-second films, created by agency WCRS, on Channel 4, with each focusing on the story of a fictional character who has lost a loved one due to coming out.

The ads reflect the stories of gay, bi, trans and lesbian characters. The ‘Love Happens Here’ campaign, which also features a special 90-second cinema ad, will run until 8 July when Pride marches will take place across the UK. The honest ads take the unusual step of apologising, with a gay character, for example, seen to say sorry for not taking the needs of the bisexual community seriously enough in the past.

Speaking to Marketing Week, Iain Walters, deputy director of marketing for Pride In London, says Channel 4 was the perfect fit for the ‘Love Happens Here’ campaign as the channel was already planning to mark the anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act 1967 with a series of one-off programmes.

Outside of the Channel 4 collaboration, the campaign will play out in two phases; ‘Hate’ and ‘Love’. The first phase draws attention to the rising problem of anti-LGBT hate crimes in London with Guerrilla-style fly-postering across the city and statistic-led taxi-tops. And then from 23 June, the second ‘Love’ phase of the campaign will launch, which will see the OOH advertising messages of hate crimes replaced with messages of love.

Walters concedes that the campaign, which marks Pride’s first ever television appearance, has been driven by necessity.

“British society has made a lot of progress since gay male sex was legalised 50 years ago,” he explains.

“However, if you look at the Met Police data then since 2014, when equal marriage laws were passed, hate crimes towards the LGBT community in London have increased by 35%. This shows there’s clearly still a need for brands to humanise the gay community [on above the line channels] further and a lot more that we all can do.”

READ MORE: More than half of LGBT+ community feels ‘invisible’ in advertising

Walters says this year’s Pride In London festival will be bigger than ever before, with the capital’s Mayor Sadiq Khan allowing it to expand beyond Trafalgar Square and into Leicester Square as well.

But despite the record levels of participation expected and creative partnerships with the likes of Barclays (which will change its logos colours to rainbow), Channel 4 (which will change its idents to rainbow colours) and Skittles (which will release limited all-white packets to signify the power of the rainbow and gay community), Walters hopes the advertising industry will do  more over the coming years.

He concludes: “It’s wonderful more gay families are being shown on TV ads, but there’s still a long way to go when you consider the proliferation of BAME characters and also the lack of gender equality in board rooms.

“The political climate – of the Conservatives working with DUP and the Orlando tragedy – means we have to react more regularly with messages of hope.”

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