Profit vs. Purpose: Examining Brand Engagement Through the Lens of Pride

Life ain’t all rainbows, okay? A quick scroll through your social feed or a few minutes watching the news reveals that. The fight for universal equality in our country can’t easily be ignored any more.

So while Pride Month is typically a celebration, the context of the Black Lives Matter movement gives us motive to reflect on Pride’s origins – a riot.

Pride month commemorates the Stonewall Riots that occurred in New York City on June 28, 1969. When police raided the gay bar, a black trans woman named Marsha P. Johnson threw a brick at her oppressors out of frustration with the police’s brutality against the LGBT community. This brick began a six-day uprising, and her bravery signaled the tipping point for the gay rights movement.

So, what’s a brand to do? It’s Marketing 101 to go where your customers are, but our society is facing emotionally charged issues in this moment. The conversations are not easy, but long overdue.

Using Pride as our lens, we can uncover how brands should engage in often controversial topics.

 

DO: Take a Courageous Stand

If you’re going to join the conversation – commit. Take the plunge headfirst because no one likes a half-assed ally.

Diesel did it right this year, releasing not only an emotional film chronicling one women’s male-to-female transition, but taking it several steps beyond by creating a Zoom-based queer “club” and establishing a new fund supporting gender identity at the workplace.

 

DO: Give Back to the Community Without Expecting a Sale

Drag culture has skyrocketed in popularity in recent years, and Jack Daniels decided to serve up a stiff dose to fans still under lockdown. The “Drag Queen Mukbang” web series will not only highlight some entertaining queens, but also act as a forum to discuss recent events in our country. With COVID-19 cancelling all of June’s Pride parades and celebrations, this virtual event acts as a breath of fresh air in an otherwise very serious climate.

 

DO: Know Your Brand Takes a Backseat

Instead of encouraging people to taste the rainbow, the quirky candy brand wants you to give a rainbow instead. By offering special Pride packs, Skittles is giving its classic packaging the backseat to LGBT issues. It’s not only using its brand as a platform, but it’s creating tangible value by donating the proceeds to GLAAD.

 

DO: Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Nike has a consistent history of celebrating Pride with taste. On top of their BETRUE. product line, they’ve consistently donated to LGBT charities, including $500,000 to the Charities Aid Foundation in America this year. They even have a pride-specific landing page with a strong, genuine message of support. It concludes with: “Until We All Win.”

As you can see, it takes more than a rainbow-themed product to move your brand in the right direction. So, whether you’re thinking of getting involved in Pride or any other social issue, do it with integrity and authenticity if you want to make a meaningful impact.

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