LGBTQ experiences have been common among progressive brands long before the Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage legal in the U.S. Brands have already been working hard to understand the needs and wants of LGBTQ consumers. In present day, the number of brands focusing on the community is at an all-time high. And with good reason—more than 54% of millennials who participated in a 2014 Google Consumer Survey said they would choose an LGBTQ-friendly brand over a competitor that wasn’t “equality focused”. Here’s a look at how a variety of brands are connecting with the LGBTQ community through dynamic and inclusive live experiences.
Australian bank ANZ, a long-time advocate for the LGBTQ community, celebrated 10 years of sponsoring Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras by completely transforming its retail office into a “GAYNZ” branch, complete with marble floors, baroque sculptures, and hand-painted murals depicting LGBTQ themes. The metamorphosis even included GAYNZ business cards for executives and a rainbow-flag emoji developed with Twitter to accompany the #GAYNZ hashtag on social media, a nice touch!
Powered by its clever “Stay Hilton, Go Out” initiative and accompanying microsite, the hotel chain provides members of the LGBTQ community with a variety of personalized travel experiences, deals and rewards. Perks include vacation packages featuring top gay destinations and travel tips designed for LGBTQ tourists. The brand has also expanded its video series–“What I Pack” and “Bed Time Stories”–which feature interviews with “out” celebrities as part of their LGBTQ experiences.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers is one of several professional sports leagues that is using events to celebrate LGBTQ athletes. Last June, the group kicked off LA’s official Pride party by recognizing Southern California LGBTQ+ athletes during its fifth annual “LGBT Night at Dodger Stadium”. The event included a performance of the National Anthem by actress and former athlete Dot Marie Jones, accompanied by members of the Gay Men’s Chorus and Trans Chorus of Los Angeles. In addition to being backed by a variety of LGBTQ-friendly sponsors, the event also included specialty Pride t-shirts, gay celebrity appearances, a fireworks show and a DJ.
Long-standing champion of the LGBTQ community, American Express has often led the way when it comes to producing meaningful LGBTQ experiences. The brand really got into the swing of things about six years ago when a handful of its PRIDE network members (an employee focused resource group that fosters an inclusive work environment) designed an LGBTQ-focused program in Provincetown, MA, a location known for its heavy LGBTQ+ population. The strategy was twofold, combining the brand’s pride campaign with its Shop Small platform in an effort to measure the success of the LGBTQ program while earning the loyalty of small business owners.
The program has grown to 11 markets and is activated for six full months, kicking off in June for Pride Month. The brand’s 2016 “Express Love” campaign included larger-than-life pride parade float activations in each market and plenty of consumer giveaways, like poem cards that explained the campaign and drove attendees to a website offering market-specific LGBTQ content.
To celebrate its sponsorship of New York City’s Pride March this year, skincare brand Kiehl’s delivered a lively event at its flagship store on 3rd Ave. The experience included a musical performance by lesbian twins Tegan and Sara, as well as The Misshapes, plus a rainbow-fueled step-and-repeat photo op with popular drag queens. The brand also presented four checks to the The Tegan and Sara Foundation, The Hetrick-Martin Institute, Ali Forney Center and The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center for a collective amount of $35,000—just one more thing to celebrate.
As inclusivity becomes a vital component of modern brand activations and marketing in general, the scope and depth of LGBTQ experiences continues to grow. The key to finding success within the demographic lies in understanding what the community stands for and proving that your brand genuinely supports the same principles.
Check out brand activations designed and produced by Sparks.