‘Media has given ground’: Brands urged to continue Pride campaigns

‘Media has given ground’: Brands urged to continue Pride campaigns

Outvertising, the UK’s advocacy group for LGBTQIA+ inclusion in marketing and advertising, has published a statement calling on brands to stand their ground this Pride Month.

The statement urges advertisers to continue with their Pride campaigns and recommends exercising allyship through investment and divestment. It includes guidance for brands on navigating the challenges of an unprecedented and coordinated backlash to Pride in 2023.

“Anti-LGBTQIA+ groups are relentlessly attacking brands that demonstrate allyship with our community,” the statement reads. “As part of their efforts to halt and roll back LGBTQIA+ inclusion in society at large, these fringe groups are attempting to erase our community in the media, including in the ads people see. The Trans+ community are weathering the brunt of this targeted campaign of hate and they must be protected. But this hate is not limited to our Trans+ friends – the whole LGBTQIA+ community are feeling the effects.

“There’s no room for performative gestures or empty commitments in 2023: love is love, but money talks.”

The statement has been endorsed by 64 organisations as of the publication of this article. Signatories include the World Federation of Advertisers, ISBA, Advertising Association, DMA, The Marketing Society, IAB UK, Dentsu, Grey London, Publicis Egalité, VMLY&R, Ogilvy, Stonewall, Pride in London, WPP Unite, WACL, NABS, Trans+ Adland, and GLAAD.

It comes after a string of brands in the US have buckled to pressure to withdraw or modify Pride campaigns and activations. In May, Anheuser-Busch beer brand Bud Light received backlash from conservative commentators and Republican politicians over a partnership with transgender actress and TikTok personality Dylan Mulvaney. Bud Light pulled back from its campaign amid a drop in sales, angering LGBTQ+ allies.

US retailer Target also pulled Pride merchandise and promotional material from its storefronts this month after targeted harassment of store employees. Other companies such as Kohl’s, The North Face, and PetSmart have faced similar pressure from anti-LGBTQ+ groups.

Joint-CEO of Outvertising Marty Davies commented: “Our community urgently needs brands to deliver on their promises of allyship. Anti-LGBTQIA+ groups want to see our community erased from the media, including in our advertising. Our industry is being tested. Advertisers need to show courage and run their Pride campaigns. Politicians have given ground. The media has given ground. We can’t afford for business to give ground, too.”

While anti-Pride harassment has made headlines in the US, UK Government statistics for England and Wales have also shown a 126% increase in hate crime based on sexual orientation, and a 156% increase based on Transgender identity, since 2017.

The Outvertising statement also includes a reassurance that corporate LGBTQ+ allyship is not only ethical, but also good for business. Research from Portland Communications has found two-thirds of under-60s in the UK (66%) think it’s important to fight discrimination against LGBTQ+ people. Deloitte has also noted that more diverse and inclusive companies have higher levels of innovation and creativity, and greater brand appeal and loyalty with consumers who want socially responsible brands.

In the US, a GLAAD study recently identified that if a brand publicly supports and demonstrates a commitment to expanding and protecting LGBTQ+ rights, consumers are twice as likely to buy that brand.

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