Stonewall is launching its first brand campaign in 10 years as it looks to address a rise in hate crimes against the LGBT community and tackle the “complacency” around equality.
The campaign, ‘Come out for LGBT’, is a three-year initiative that aims to re-energise the fight for LGBT equality. It comes after research by the charity found that hate crime against the LGBT community has risen significantly over the past five years.
The study, based on polling by YouGov, found that 16% of LGBT people have experienced a hate crime over the past 12 months, up 78% from the 9% in 2013. Meanwhile, two in five (41%) of trans people have experienced a hate crime or incident. Some 81% of LGBT people have not reported the crime to police.
Speaking to Marketing Week, Stonewall’s director of communications Lucy Abell says: “We want to tackle what we see as a feeling of complacency about LGBT equality in Britain. We have made some really important leaps in the last few years, from employment rights to marriage rights, and that might lead people to think the job is done. We want this campaign to show there is still a lot of work that needs to happen for there to be true equality.”
A TV campaign, created by Mr President, will act as a “rallying cry” to ask for support. Outdoor, digital and social media activity will then direct people to the Stonewall website, where they will be able to pledge their support and share that across social media.
The website also offers support material for people that want to do more, for example offering advice on how to intervene safely if a hate crime is happening, and guides and resources to make workplaces and schools more inclusive.
How marketing can support LGBT equality
The campaign is not just aimed at individuals, with Stonewall hoping that brands will also pledge their support to LGBT equality. While Abell says there has been a “shift” in brands championing diversity, more still needs to be done both in terms of representing the LGBT community in advertising but also in how they work.
“It is really important that diverse identities are represented in the campaign. For younger LGBT people having people in campaigns they can directly link to their experiences is important,” she says.
“But it is also really important for companies within the marketing industry to take a look at their own workplaces and challenge them to be more inclusive. If you have a company or agency where people can be themselves at work it leads to a much more productive workforce.”
She also warns against so-called ‘pink washing’. Some brands have previously been criticised for jumping on the ‘Pride’ movement, for example by changing their logo during local parades, but not doing anything internally that leads to progressive change.
And just last week L’Oreal was slammed in a number of quarters for firing trans model Munroe Bergdof when she spoke out against systemic racism. Abell says while it is “always positive” when a brand wants to be more diverse in its advertising, it needs to make sure that is backed up HR policies and a workplace culture that also promote diversity.
“It needs to be a meaningful commitment that runs through not just what is in a final ad shoot but the principles of the company behind it. That takes a strong commitment because we do not yet live in an equal society and so there will be difficulties along the way,” she adds.
Creating a more equal society
Abell says the long-term goal is to create a society where nobody is targeted or harassed because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. But to get there it has shorter-term targets to go deeper into these communities to offer support and to reach people that don’t usually get actively involved in the issue.
This is even more important, she says, in the current political climate.
“Some of [US President Donald] Trump’s views are pretty appalling. And we have the DUP as a part of British politics and they have some attitudes around gay marriage and other areas that need addressing,” she explains.
“That has been a bit of a wake up call against complacency. The rights we have have been hard won and we have come a long way but until society shifts to match that we still have a long way to go.”