We’re well into the annual Pride month, and with our capital’s main event London Pride less than a week away, it’s an interesting time to look at how brands get involved with Pride and equality activities, what those messages say about that brand, and their influence on the wider LGBT community.
The latest major player to wade into the Pride-themed campaigns is Google with Android and their new #AndProud campaign. With the facility to make personalised characters, Android invites people to digitally join in their online Pride parade to celebrate solidarity for the LGBT community under the banner of their long-running ‘Be together. Not the same’ campaign.
This is not the first time the search giant have included such themes in their adverts. Chrome’s ‘It Gets Better’ ads used their ads to show support for equality. Previously, the search equality themed ads position the internet – and, by default, Google – as a platform to facilitate the support, spirit and hope from the online community.
However brands using LGBT messaging often have as many detractors as they do supporters.
When Tiffany & Co released their first engagement advert showing a same sex couple, followed up by their ‘Will You?’ advert a month later, many applauded the traditional jeweller for breaking stereotypes and promoting equality. However some saw this as merely a ploy to gain custom from the LGBT community.
Many argue that any positive exposure of the LGBT community in the media is positive regardless of its motive, as promoting the normality and equality of all relationships is key but as more brands become increasingly inclusive of the LGBT community, the issue of duality between sincere, altruistic representations and a commercial bias looks set to grow.
Similarly, if organisations are seen to be negative towards the LGBT community, this can cause backlash, as happened with Coca-Cola’s sponsorship of the Sochi winter Olympics which received widespread criticism due to Russia’s disappointing history on equality and personal freedoms, leading to protests and boycotts around the soft drink brand. The controversy continued when Coca-Cola called it an ‘unexpected outcome’ that ‘Gay’ was banned from their ‘Share a Coke with Friends’ campaign.
As with other media, often the conversation is not about how minorities are represented in advertising, but more so that they are. A media presence goes some way to demarginalise minorities who, in the past, have been largely invisible in the mediasphere. It’s with hope that the positive inclusions will continue, and that representations of same sex couples will soon become as normalised as heterosexual representations.