A Politicized Pride and Brand Transformation

By: Jennifer Leonard

Pride Month is upon us, with a markedly different tone from a year ago. While Pride celebrations have always had a political history, and a common goal of social and political change and acceptance, 2017 has ushered in a decidedly partisan slant, with many Pride parades around the country becoming “resistance” marches.

This puts LGBT Trump voters (they exist in higher numbers than you may think) at issue, and many are choosing to boycott the events, as are many advertisers. View More and More


The reasons for the change are many: LGBT community fear in the wake of Orlando, a rise in the occurrence and acceptance of disrespectful discourse in U.S. politics, new administration officials and advisors that are not simply conservative in belief but that sit squarely in and have solid ties to the anti-LGBT “alt-right” movement…the list can go on. It seems less Republican v. Democrat than it does Trump Administration Supporters v. Everyone Else.


“Politics is important; political decisions have consequences; and passionately arguing for your preferred political outcomes is nothing to be ashamed of,” he writes. “A politicized life is a different beast, however. It treats politics as a zero-sum game or a form of total warfare in which the other side must be obliterated. It alters every aspect of your being: where you shop; what you watch on TV; what sort of music you listen to; who you associate with…” – Sonny Bunch, The Washington Free Beacon (2013)


And this is where we are. A divided public is choosing carefully where to spend their dollars. Any full -or perceived- show of partisanship on behalf of Brands FOR or AGAINST the current administration has swift, and public, backlash from the opposing side.


Brands, even those who have been long-time supporters of the LGBT community, are adjusting to this new normal. In this moment, Brands and Agencies have an enormous opportunity. This is the space where storytelling shines…the opportunity of a lifetime really. To be Relevant. Inclusive. Supportive without being Partisan. Engaging. Thought-Provoking. Game-Changing. To remind us that we are more alike than we are unalike, to quote a recent brand message. The great news is they are not backing down from the challenge! Brands and publishers are using their content to illustrate all of these things, beautifully.


You can already see it happening with Heineken’s groundbreaking work. Momondo’s DNA testing spot was eye-opening for many. These are just two examples. Not just inserting a brand into the conflict, but inviting dialogue…having face to face conversations with “the other side”, showing what we have in common, in a time where so much of what we see from our politicians and from the media is widening the divide. Coke is taking a more lighthearted approach, but it still boils down to a human story of how we are essentially alike.


Clearly there are more issues than just LGBT awareness being brought up and made relevant and relatable by the use of these amazing storytelling examples. Pride is not the only politicized issue of the day. Brands now have the opportunity to remind us that we are more alike than we are unalike, to quote a recent message. To remind us that WE do not have to remain politicized, the “other” side does not have to be obliterated, that we may have different ideas on how to accomplish many common goals, but we share a love of our country and our freedom and our right to disagree.

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