What are the pitfalls of LGBT+ marketing?

The week before the parade is formally known as PEAK PRIDE. The time when we see rainbows aplenty on flagpoles, on shop windows and clothing across the UK.

But rainbow washing is becoming an increasingly problem for brands trying to do the right thing by the LGBT+ community. For example, Barclays’ app update this week drew fire for putting rainbows on the unsuspecting phone screens of their customers, while other brands are being called into question for their real commitment to support LGBT+ rights in the other 11 months in the year.

We’ve been speaking to the lovely Imogen Watson at The Drum about the 3 major pitfalls of LGBT+ marketing:

  1. Riding the Pride bandwagon - so many brands only come out of the woodwork at Pride - but how are they supporting the community throughout the year? What’s more - we’ve reached peak rainbow, and LGBT people are becoming increasingly skeptical if due diligence hasn’t taken place.

    The rainbow flag serves a purpose but it shouldn’t be used as a sticker,” explains Asad “It’s a bit like Fairtrade. You wouldn’t slap a Fairtrade logo on something without checking each stage of the supply chain.

  2. Failure to represent society both inside and out - this one is close to our heart. All too often addressing minority groups is soon as an ancillary for the marketing teams to look at, but it’s actually something the whole organisation needs to gear around.

    The LGBT community knows when it’s just a campaign that you’ve slapped a rainbow on. Do good by looking inside the organisation to see what stories you can pull out.

  3. Only representing a fraction of the community - LGBT+ = a lot of letters and a lot of identities. By being grouped together (much like BAME), we do a disservice to the uniqueness of each group. All too often when brands say LGBT, they activate through white, gay men. This year if the first year we’ve started to see a real shift and understanding of the full community.

    The way brands tend to go is the G, because it’s easier to understand. There might be more gay men within advertising or within marketing that can have the conversation and lead the cultural side of things.

Companies and their marketing team need to approach LGBT+ campaigns with more consideration and care. In the last five years we’ve seen a real shift in how this sizeable community is addressed, and as the world splits between populism and equality for all, there’s still work for brands to do in being part of progress.

Contact us if you’d like to discuss this more.

Asad Dhunna