What is your opinion on the current state of LGBTQ+ representation in the advertising industry?
While I think representation has definitely increased within the last decade, I have no doubt that we need more LGBTQ+ representation within advertising - both in front of and behind the camera.
There are so many stories that need to be told and the industry has only scratched the surface. The community is rich in intersectionality and I look forward to seeing more diverse narratives being told.
Do you think LGBTQ marketing is seen as a trend or a real need for businesses?
Honestly, it’s a bit of both. Clearly, we’re seeing an overwhelming amount of rainbow themed products and logos this month, and the reality is that some of these attempts are disingenuous.
If connecting with the LGBTQ+ community is a real business need, brands should make sure to communicate to that audience all year round - not just during Pride Month.
How can brands be more authentic in the way they engage the LGBTQ community?
Any brand considering including LGBTQ+ content in their marketing communications should first look within. Does the idea connect with your brand purpose and values? Are you hiring and championing LGBTQ+ employees within your own walls? Are you partnering with the right people and organizations to communicate authentically? These are all questions brands and marketers should ask themselves.
Do brands risk damaging their perception in the eyes of the community if they don’t show support?
Not necessarily. Brands should not celebrate pride for pride’s sake. Sometimes, it’s simply not right for a brand and that’s perfectly fine. Not capitalizing on the month does not necessarily make you anti-LGBTQ+.
The brands that do it right are those that are grounded in their purpose and communicate that purpose in an authentic yet creative manner.
Outside of advertising/marketing where can brands look for inspiration on how to embrace the LGBTQ+ community?
The answer is in the question - the LGBTQ+ community. Do your research; partner with the right people and listen to their stories.
Where is the line between inclusion and "rainbow-washing" for a communication agency running a LGBTQ+ campaign for one of its clients?
Again, it all goes back to authenticity, brand purpose and being a true supporter of the community all year round.
As creatives and advertisers, we have to know our brands and where their money is going. Forbes just published an article listing nine corporations that celebrate pride and yet have donated millions of dollars to anti-LGBTQ+ politicians and organizations. If that’s not rainbow-washing, I don’t know what is.
As we reach the end of Pride Month, are there any brands that celebrated it well in your opinion?
Absolutely. For a recent example of how to get pride marketing right, look to Ikea. The brand is giving 100% of the profits from its rainbow shopping bag to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, which supports LGBTQ+ children, youth and families. The company is no stranger to advocating for this community - it was one of the first brands to show a queer couple on television in 1994.
The Swedes have always been ahead of the curve, but I’m biased since I work for a Swedish advertising agency.