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Research & Insight

Pride 2024: The Evolution of Corporate Pride Campaigns

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As we approach the end of Pride Month 2024, we reflect on how retail brands have evolved to support the LGBTQIA+ community.

In this article, we explore which brands highlight LGBTQIA+ rights, emphasizing the significance of consistency and authenticity in their support, from the early days of discreet endorsements to the impactful and innovative campaigns of 2024.



The Shift from Tokenism to Genuine Advocacy

In the past, many brands faced criticism for engaging in "rainbow washing"—the practice of signalling support for the LGBTQIA+ community through superficial changes like rainbow-themed marketing during Pride Month without substantive actions to back it up. However, recent years have seen a positive shift towards more genuine and inclusive representation, driven by consumers expecting authentic and continuous support.

Nike's Long-Term Commitment: The "Be True" Campaign

One brand that has shown its long-term commitment to supporting the LGBTQIA+ community is Nike. In 2012, Nike launched its Pride campaign, "Be True," which celebrates the LGBTQIA+ communities and the universality of sport with rainbow-themed products and event sponsorships. Today, their support extends beyond Pride Month, with initiatives like the Gendercool Project and The Out Foundation. These efforts help maintain momentum for LGBTQIA+ rights and promote a more inclusive society.

Aesop's Queer Libraries: Promoting LGBTQIA+ Authors

Another brand that has built consistency and support beyond tokenism is Aesop. Aesop has shown long-term commitment by opening their Queer Libraries across their stores. Each year, titles by LGBTQIA+ authors are updated, encouraging visitors to discover new voices from the community. This year, the selection of 45 titles for Australia and 11 for New Zealand was purchased from independent queer bookstores and celebrated on Aesop's website, showcasing authors' unique experiences.

Lessons from Past Criticisms: The Case of Chick-fil-A

Not all brands have successfully demonstrated their support. Chick-fil-A faced backlash in 2021 for sponsoring the "True Inspiration Awards," organized by the Atlanta Pride Committee. The sponsorship was criticized due to Chick-fil-A's history of donating to anti-LGBTQIA+ organizations and its CEO's past comments opposing same-sex marriage. This example highlights the importance of consistent and genuine advocacy in fostering an inclusive society.


Innovative Campaigns in 2024: Expanding Support

This year, Pride support has expanded with various innovative and impactful campaigns. Macy’s collaboration with The Trevor Project produced an emotive public service announcement capturing the self-acceptance journeys of LGBTQIA+ youths. PPK, a media agency, raised awareness for homelessness within this demographic, promoting fundraising for the Rose Dynasty Foundation, which provides resources and support to the LGBTQIA+ community.


Challenges and Opportunities for Retail Brands

Despite progress, there is still significant room for improvement. AP News reported that this year, “Marketing is toned down compared to previous years, and at some chains, there’s no trace of Pride at all.” This decline is linked to the US elections, which have influenced brands' visibility in supporting Pride. However, many advocates see a change in the landscape, with brands now considering long-term expressions of support, such as hiring LGBTQIA+ models or collaborating with queer-run brands.

“Marketing is toned down compared to previous years, and at some chains, there’s no trace of Pride at all.”

AP News - 2024

What can brands do to show real allyship with the LGBTQIA+ community?

01) Prioritise authenticity: To enhance their support for the LGBTQIA+ community, brands should prioritize authenticity, education, representation, and transparent support.

02) Educate Employees: Educating employees on LGBTQIA+ issues and promoting awareness are crucial for an inclusive society.

03) Visible Representation: Meaningful representation of LGBTQIA+ individuals in marketing and leadership roles is essential for authenticity.

04) Be Transparent: Brands must focus on actions that align with their stated support for LGBTQIA+ rights, creating transparency and accountability with their community.

Looking Forward: Prioritizing Authenticity and Representation

As we reflect on Pride Month 2024, it's clear that the journey of corporate Pride campaigns has evolved significantly. Brands that demonstrate genuine, year-round support for the LGBTQIA+ community contribute to a more inclusive society. By learning from past criticisms and embracing authentic advocacy, retail brands can continue to make a positive impact on LGBTQIA+ rights and representation.