Campaigns That Have Made Strides for the LGBTQ+ Community
In honor of National Coming Out Day on October 11—a day to celebrate the disclosure of one’s sexual orientation and self-acceptance—I’d like to take a moment to recognize marketing campaigns from various organizations that have uplifted LGBTQ+ visibility and helped make strides for the community.
Note: The LGBTQ+ campaigns that I identify are ones that I have personally admired and thought had an inspiring message for the general public. There are obviously more campaigns than the ones in this blog that have uplifted LGBTQ+ voices. I also understand that corporations using a rainbow symbol and the LGBTQ+ community as an excuse to make a profit is extremely problematic, and I do not condone it. I also realize that these campaigns largely showcase homosexuality, an aspect of the LGBTQ+ identities with which I identify. I am fully aware that the gay rights movement was started by black, trans women, and they deserve more visibility and attention in the media.
Absolut Vodka ‘Kiss with Pride’ Campaign
One of my all-time favorite campaigns ever is Absolut Vodka’s Kiss With Pride campaign. As a long-time supporter and ally to the LGBTQ+ community, Absolut jumpstarted this campaign in 2017 to celebrate the UK’s 50th anniversary of decriminalizing homosexuality in England and Wales—and to showcase that homosexuality is still illegal in 72 other countries.
The campaign features posters of homosexual people from many of those 72 countries engaging in one of the most basic and natural ways to show affection: a kiss. Around the touching lips of these individuals is the silhouette of an Absolut bottle illuminated in rainbow colors. The caption below describes the purpose of the campaign and that each poster showcases people from countries where homosexuality is still considered a crime.
Absolut also used Snapchat as a vehicle to support the LGBTQ+ community. The company created a #kisswithpride Snapchat filter, and for every person who used the filter, one euro was donated to Stonewall, Great Britain’s largest LGBTQ+ charity.
Animal Planet’s Love Is Natural Campaign
In 2018, Animal Planet issued a series of images of same-sex animals showing affection to one another—reflecting the idea that love is natural and if homosexuality can occur between wild animals, it most certainly is normal for humans to have an attraction to someone of the same sex.
Animal Planet released images of two same-sex lions, zebras, cows, and antelopes with the caption “LOVE IS NATURAL, HAPPY PRIDE MONTH” in rainbow colors. With no commentary, the images speak for themselves. The idea that love is natural is truly ubiquitous, and I believe that this campaign was a clever and smart way to help inform people who may not fully understand LGBTQ+ identities.
Wisconsin Flag Campaign
Ah, good ol’ Wisconsin. As a native, queer Wisconsite, I had never heard of this campaign until recently, but I’m glad I did. The campaign features a spin-off of the 171-year-old traditional Wisconsin flag in honor of Pride Month 2017. The traditional Wisconsin flag portrays a miner and sailor with the coat of arms that is accompanied by a banner that reads “Forward” above.
The agency VML redesigned the flag for the ACLU of Wisconsin, which made its debut at Milwaukee Pride Parade in 2017. The 1848 flag features the reverse side with the miner and sailor holding hands behind the coat of arms. T-shirts were distributed at the parade with the front of the flag on the front of the shirt, and the redesigned flag on the back of the shirt.
What makes this campaign so great is that it was completely legal and there was no real criticism for it when it buzzed on social media, according to Kristin Hansen, development director for the ACLU of Wisconsin.
Two years later, under Governor Tony Evers, the Pride flag was hung underneath the state flag at the Wisconsin Capitol Building for the first time ever in the state’s history. Hailing from one of the most conservative counties in the state, it’s reassuring to know that Wisconsites all over are movin’ and shakin’ the status quo and uplifting LGBTQ+ voices.
Bud Light Rainbow Bottles
This past summer, Bud Light announced that from May 27-June 30, it would sell rainbow beer bottles in bars across the United States.
For every case sold, Bud Light would donate $1 to GLAAD (formerly known as the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), embodying the idea that its beer is for everyone to enjoy. The initiative received quite a bit of backlash on social media as people questioned why the company wasn’t donating to other charitable organizations throughout the month.
I understand that using the rainbow for capitalistic gains is problematic (a whole other issue), but what I loved about this campaign is that it juxtaposed the typical beer drinker—someone who may not typically be a loud and proud supporter of the LGBTQ+ community. Although Bud Light was most certainly profiting under this campaign, the conversation and buzz it generated definitely garnered more visibility for the LGBTQ+ community.
An Arc Bending Toward Justice?
Strides have most certainly been made for the LGBTQ+ community through marketing and advertising campaigns. A beer company made rainbow cans for people to drink from, and a rather traditional state turned its flag into a vehicle to render LGBTQ+ people visible.
However, let’s not forget that marriage equality was only granted to same-sex couples in the United States a little more than four years ago. Furthermore, the Supreme Court is currently deciding the fate of LGBTQ+ employment discrimination; they’re ruling whether gay and trans individuals can legally be fired from their jobs just because of their identities. And many of these campaigns are only visible during one singular month of the year.
So, the next time you see a campaign in support of the LGBTQ+ community, be mindful that the political arc is not currently bending towards full justice and support for the community. Yes, strides have been made, but in 2019, we’re still fighting for basic rights to be granted, such as not being fired from a job because of who we are.
We still have much to fight for, but it’s worth noting that there’s always a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Hopefully, that pot of gold is much closer than it appears.