Marketing Briefing: Why marketers and agency execs are encouraging Pride marketing that ‘goes beyond June’

rainbow flag

This Marketing Briefing covers the latest in marketing for Digiday+ members and is distributed over email every Tuesday at 10 a.m. ET. More from the series →

Last June, many of the marketing campaigns to support Pride were pulled due to the pandemic as the typically sponsored in-person events were canceled and virtual events had yet to hit their stride. Now that many people are vaccinated and socializing again, marketers are spending to support Pride again, returning to budgeting ad dollars with LGBTQ+ media as well as making Pride-specific campaigns and products.

Even as spending and campaigns supporting Pride return, marketers and agency execs believe advertisers need to retool how they think about Pride marketing overall. They should move from thinking about Pride as a month to add rainbows to brand logos and instead find ways to support LGBTQ+ people all year round via donations and inclusive marketing, according to agency execs. 

With in-person Pride events rescheduled for later this year (as mass in-person events are still just starting to take place in some areas), moving beyond the time constraint of June is beginning to be normalized, according to agency execs. Thrillist, for example, has landed a long-term ad deal with Orbitz to sponsor its LGBTQ+ travel content as the publication aims to extend Pride month ad budgets beyond June.

“As I told a client yesterday, I don’t stop being gay on July 1st and brands need to think beyond June as Pride month,” said Duane Brown, founder of performance marketing agency Take Some Risk. “If you are just changing your logo and or just slapping Pride colors on a product,  please don’t. That is lazy and disrespectful for what Pride is.”

Some marketers are beginning to believe in asking for briefs that are no longer “time-boxed” but can live on and do something that “goes beyond June,” explained Zack McDonald, executive creative director at B-Reel, the shop behind H&M’s recent “Beyond the Rainbow” Pride campaign. Instead of rolling out a Pride clothing collection, as it has done in previous years, H&M created a web experience where people can scan any rainbow image and be served a story from a member of the LGBTQ+ community about what Pride means for them. The chain will also be donating $100,000 to the United Nations Free & Equal Campaign.

“Brands are starting to wake up to the fact that consumers see through their marketing tactics and can tell which companies actually care about marginalized communities,” said Alexa McGriff, associate director of brand strategy at Chemistry. As some brands begin to recognize this, “Pride efforts will look different than what we’re used to seeing in June. Instead of rainbow-washed logos and products, we’ll start to see brands weave LGBTQ+ communities into everything they do.”

McGriff continued: “From inclusive ads to inclusive media buying, brands that make products for everyone will realize that their marketing efforts should also go to everyone, always — including to LGBTQ+ people beyond June. When that happens, society — and our industry — will be better for it.” 

The brands that have started to be more inclusive year-round with the continued support of LGBTQ+ people and ramp up those efforts beyond a rainbow logo during June are more likely to have those Pride marketing efforts land, agency execs said. “Pride isn’t an OOH campaign, a digital ad, or a product launch,” said Michael Looper, vp of experience strategy at RAPP. “Pride is both a statement to the world and state of living in that same world. Pride is about knowing and celebrating many moments in time and turning them into actions for a better tomorrow. In other words, Pride goes far deeper than a single date, and is much more colorful than a simple rainbow.”

3 questions with Magic Spoon co-founder Gabi Lewis

As a newer DTC cereal brand, how are you thinking about ad spend?

Recently, we teamed up with the members of the [TikTok] Hype House to do a limited-edition collaboration of two new flavors. One of the biggest challenges I think every DTC brand faces is diversifying their acquisition channels and also diversifying their customer base. So most DTC brands are overly reliant on Facebook, overly reliant on the classic DTC millennial consumer. And if you become overly reliant on those channels and those audiences, then there’s a ceiling on your business. And so we’ve been very careful from the start, not to be overly reliant on any one acquisition channel and also not to be open on any one type of consumer. So from the beginning, we’ve been focused not only on running ads and Instagram and Facebook like most DTC brands, but also leaning very heavily into influencer marketing.

The role of influencer has certainly changed in recent years. What does working with influencers mean for Magic Spoon?

We’re not only targeting, for example, macro TikTok influencers, we’re targeting influencers who are working with agencies. We’re working closely with influencers of all sizes across all platforms from TikTok to YouTube, Instagram and Facebook, and also a podcast we consider influencer marketing as well, and that philosophy I think would apply to any brand in retail. 

Working with influencers, especially on TikTok, can come at a high price tag for legacy and up and coming brands alike. Is it worth the cost?

I don’t think it’s as simple, unfortunately, as the costs, in general, being justified or not justified for influencer marketing as a whole. When we’re working with other influencers on various channels, whether it’s YouTube, TikTok, Instagram or Facebook, we’re generally working with influencers that are a little bit smaller. And we’re often coming up with creative arrangements — for example, revenue share, commission, affiliate structures and things like that. I think if a young brand were simply to start partnering with the largest 5% of influencers and pay them the cash amount they asked for immediately, it probably wouldn’t generate an amazing return on ad spend. Asking for certain data points before going into the partnership and using that as a basis to negotiate the rates, or creating more creative partnership structures can see incredibly efficient results in influencer marketing in general, and it’s a very scalable channel as well. — Kimeko McCoy

By the numbers

It’s no secret that the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way shoppers buy and brands sell. Amidst the uncertainty brought on by the pandemic, a few new brands launched. Maybe the founders had a hunch because it seems customers are willing to follow. Recently, full-service advertising agency the EGC Group released research around consumer spending habits and behaviors post-Covid, including data around shoppers’ increasing willingness to try new brands. Find the data points below:

  • 75% of customers have tested new methods of shopping.
  • 36% are willing to try unfamiliar brands they see while on Instagram and Facebook.
  • 73% of those trying new brands they’ve never heard of will continue the practice after the pandemic. (Source: McKinsey & Company). — Kimeko McCoy

Quote of the Week

“You can go through the whole marketing funnel in one step on TikTok.”

Lex Bradshaw-Zanger, CMO of L’Oréal U.K. and Ireland told senior news editor senior brands editor Seb Joseph of why TikTok stands out when it comes to boosting commerce.

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