Reflecting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities in marketing communications
As we move into a globalised world, where images and information are easily distributed and shared, brands are often communicating to a diverse collective, rather than separate target audiences. Cross-cultural campaigns are on the rise and as a result depicting diversity has become one of our biggest priorities at Getty Images. As such, the latest issue of our trends publication, Curve, looks at how organisations are using imagery connected to the concept of diversity to build long-lasting relationships with customers.
Running a campaign targeted at gay consumers outside of targeted media goes beyond pure advertising, it is a brand taking a public stance as advocates for equal rights. It demonstrates a company’s commitment to being fair and inclusive, building their reputation as a progressive brand.
In the past ten years many brands have shown an increasing interest in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LBGT) consumers. Most recently, and especially in the US, their marketing activities are starting to move from targeted campaigns in LGBT publications into wider media channels.
Last year, the UK charity Stonewall, published a guide on ‘How to market to gay consumers’ on its website, which was designed to help businesses to engage with this substantial and potentially affluent market. One of the main messages the charity wanted to get across was that brands need to incorporate gay people into mainstream campaigns in a way that feels natural and doesn’t play on stereotypes. The campaigns that succeed are those which find an authentic voice in not only reaching out to gay people, but also to their friends and family.
Earlier this year when General Mills’ Lucky Charm Cereal celebrated Pride Month with its #LuckyToBe campaign, the company came out in support for the community. The press release stated: “We’re celebrating Pride month with whimsical delight, magical charms, and two new rainbow marshmallows… If you’re lucky enough to be different, we’re celebrating you.” The campaign encouraged people to share why they’re ‘lucky to be’ on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the campaign’s hashtag and pulled the consumer generated content together on their LuckyToBe site on tumblr.
The online travel company Expedia has joined an growing list of corporations expressing support for marriage equality in the US. Its recent campaign uses a series of videos to explore the unique and personal possibilities that each trip we make holds for us. One of the commercials entitled ‘Find Your Understanding’ which was produced as part of its ongoing ‘Find Yours’ campaign — tells the story of Artie Goldstein, a retired business owner who admits to feeling apprehensive before attending his daughter Jill’s same-sex wedding in California. The film is genuine, touching the hearts of everyone watching and won Ad Age’s biggest tear-jerker ad of the year.
Despite brands becoming more open with portraying this community, the diversity of the LGBT segment itself is often overlooked: gay consumers come from different backgrounds, they are young, old, male, female, singles, couples and parents. Nursery retailer, Mama and Papas, responded to this by launching its ‘How We Roll’ campaign which celebrates the diversity and individualism that forms the makeup of the modern family, for whom parenting has become a positive extension of their current lifestyle. The campaign featured real parents with a compelling story to tell; from all walks of life with different lifestyles, interests and personalities. Olivia Robinson, creative director of the company commented, “It is certainly not just a publicity stunt – it comes from a belief that parents are changing.”
Brands are often wary of provoking existing customers or gaining publicity purely by causing controversy. It is crucial that every campaign remains authentic and does not pinpoint the community to purely secure the ‘pink money’. Any consumer group who experience marketing messages which don’t chime with what that brand fundamentally stands for will react badly. Companies seeking to support or reach out to LBGT audiences have to be able to back this up with commitment from the core. Staying consistent isn’t always easy, but it does show a brand’s investment in the matter and in turn will build long lasting relationships with gay consumers. Luckily, attitudes are changing with brands becoming more comfortable in showing life as it is and including all their customers in their communication.
The most successful marketing campaigns understand and know their audience. Taking the time to connect with LGBT communities and identify their values and beliefs will enable a genuine understanding of the target market whilst ensuring sincere and successful communication. When brands get this right, they not only gain the business of LGBT individuals, they gain the loyalty of the community and connect with consumers who see the inclusion of gay people in a brand’s communication as a sign of a progressive and fair organisation.
Michaela Schwing, senior manager content strategy, Getty Images