If you were to cast your eye over major news events from the last 12 months, the word ‘progress’ may not imminently come to mind. However, a closer inspection of the work going on in the background reveals that progress has indeed been made – especially in regards to the topic of diversity. Can things get better? Yes. But our views on important issues are generally more progressive than they were 20 years ago.
Brands are one of the key drivers helping to enrich our viewpoints and integrate what were once controversial subjects. While it would be easy to raise our eyebrows at the idea of corporate behemoths caring about anything other than financial gain, the reality is actually somewhat different.
Brands are held accountable for, well, pretty much everything they do, which not only includes their products and services but also their political messages and viewpoints on relevant social issues. And in 2017, there aren’t many issues bigger than that of diversity and its true meaning. Especially when it comes to promoting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) people as positive role models in society.
We’re certainly not taking away the extremely hard work which has been done by LGBTQ individuals who have worked tirelessly to promote equality. They are the real heroes here. But what brands have accomplished is to help to push the message of acceptance and treat everyone in the same light – no matter what their sexuality is.
According to LGBTQ network OUTstanding, 37% of consumers feel positive about brands that promote diversity and display LGBTQ people in a positive light in their branding. 14% of people are also more inclined to use products that have shown clear support for diversity as opposed to brands that don’t.
Burger King and Absolut Vodka are just two of the big companies that have weighed in with their support for the LGBTQ community. Burger King took the smart approach with its Pride Whopper, promoting a traditional Whopper burger but with different packaging on the outside and a message to go with it that read, “We are all the same inside’. The strapline may have taken a lighthearted approach, but the message was a clear show of support for the LGBTQ community.
Absolut used the rather simple but powerful message, ‘Absolut Rainbow’ when promoting a special edition rainbow coloured vodka bottle that was created to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Rainbow Flag, which is a symbol of the LGBTQ movement.
This year’s Cannes Lions festival featured diversity as one of its five major topics, again drilling home the importance of acceptance in, not just the creative industries, but also the wider society. YouTube Beach celebrated Pride Day by hosting an event with talks from key influencers discussing how important LGBTQ people have been in the industry.
This type of focus on the scene is welcomed and helps to push the message that everyone should always be included. Of course, there is an opportunity for marketers to enhance their brands further, but the communication can be powerful enough to change stereotypes and have a lasting effect on people’s perceptions.
Using power for good
Brands have a responsibility to use their influence for positive aspects and to help break down barriers. The clout of key figures like Apple CEO Tim Cook and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, who are spearheading the face of their brands, can’t be understated when it comes to promoting the ‘right’ message. Both of them are avid supporters of the LGBTQ community.
It is important to realise that the LGBTQ community is not a fad marketers are using to make a quick buck; they are now the norm, and we can only expect their representation to grow and have even more influence in the future.
Lobster and diversity
Since our conception in 2014, we have pushed the importance of diversity, and by using photos from real people in real situations, we hope we have helped promote the message of ‘equal among all’.
We were at Cannes Lions 2017, where CEO Olga Egorsheva gave a talk at R/GA on concept of diversity through visual concepts, and from our own experiences we are happy to see the creative industries taking the LGBTQ community so seriously. We look forward to seeing the concepts that these brands create to further enhance the message of diversity in the near future.
As part of Pride Month, we have curated a selection of LGBTQ content to help promote diversity. Check it out here.