This summer marks 50 years since the Stonewall Riot in New York – arguably the beginning of the gay civil rights movement. As people around the world celebrate this important anniversary and Pride season, brands are also looking to get in on the action.
However, many brands looking to appeal to LGBTQ+ consumers face accusations of tokenism and insensitivity, particularly if all they do is add a rainbow to their logo. Businesses must ensure anything they do is authentic and in line with their wider brand values if they are to be respected and taken seriously by consumers.
“Look back at your heritage and your long-term commitment and question yourself,” advises Adeline Servais, Levi’s LGBT+ coordinator. “If you’re not doing it for the right reasons, don’t do it,” she warns.
Meanwhile, Brent Miller, leader of LGBTQ+ communications at Procter & Gamble (P&G), advises companies to ensure any activity is a “natural extension” of the brand.
“It is very important we stay congruent with our values and build that consistently over time,” he says. But beyond that brands must work with the community and “have good conversations” to ensure any message lands as intended.
“Good intentions alone do not get you to a place of success,” he says. “If we have trans people in our advertising we make sure they are accurately represented and the terminology we use is correct. Often people have wonderful intentions but don’t necessarily understand the specific nuance that’s necessary for it to be really effective.”
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