We asked Rich Ferraro, who has been tracking and writing about LGBT images in advertising and marketing for the past decade, to share with us some of the most innovative 2014 LGBT Pride campaigns. As Vice President of Communications & Programs at GLAAD, he oversees GLAAD's work to advance LGBT images and stories across media, including advertising, marketing and digital media.
"GLAAD regularly meets with brands and corporates to offer best practices and to advocate for LGBT inclusion both internally and in external marketing efforts," Ferraro told us. "We also track LGBT images in advertising and hold a panel during Advertising Week in New York City each year to discuss trends in LGBT advertising." We're honored to share his thoughts on outstanding brand campaigns this Pride Month and beyond, and invite you to share your thoughts on the brands you'd nominate in the comments below.
This Pride month, mainstream advertising is coming out of the closet, with visible and innovative LGBT Pride campaigns from a diverse range of brands. Brands have found that it's a smart business decision to stand with LGBT people and the majority of Americans who support our community today. Apparel, travel, tech, and food brands are all displaying their LGBT pride and demonstrating that the industry has moved a long way from the days when LGBT advertising was limited to beer and spirits.
The LGBT community now expects diverse, innovative marketing efforts that reach mainstream audiences. It's no longer enough for a brand to simply have a float in a Pride Parade. Nine brand campaigns we're GLAAD to see, and why:
Marriott #LoveTravels: I never thought I'd walk down the street and see an outdoor campaign featuring gay dads, their kids, an out athlete and a transgender woman. This is one of the most diverse and inclusive campaigns to have ever run in mainstream advertising. The visibility of transgender people and gay people of color is incredibly low across all forms of media, but Marriott is helping to change that in the advertising industry by featuring gay basketball player Jason Collins and transgender model Geena Rocero in out-of-home ads. They've also featured gay couples with children enjoying Marriott's hotels and personifying Marriott's theme: #LoveTravels.
Nike #BETRUE: Nike encourages bravery, honestly, and individuality with its #BETRUE collection this month, but they demonstrate their commitment to equality by donating a portion of the collection's proceeds to the LGBT Sports Coalition, which advocates for LGBT equality in sports.
Honey Maid #thisiswholesome: After Nabisco's Honey Maid released a commercial featuring a gay couple a few months ago, the positive earned media and social media messages far outweighed the negative tweets from some "concerned" consumers. Now, during LGBT Pride month, when Honey Maid stands up for equality and says #thisiswholesome, it's the latest example from that the family brand that it believes that all families should be proud to live the life they love.
Facebook Pride stickers: Facebook has been a leader in outreach to the LGBT community- from setting up a Network of Support to make the site safe for LGBT users in 2010 to expanding gender options for transgender people earlier this year. Making Pride-themed stickers available for free allows LGBT users and allies to celebrate their identities on social media. It's innovative, diverse, and fun.
Lucky Charms #LuckyToBe: I always loved Lucky Charms growing up (I think it was the rainbow marshmallow). Lucky Charms is known as a family brand and it's only natural that they have chosen to celebrate all families. Their #LuckyToBe campaign is the latest mainstream effort by General Mills, a company that spoke out against Minnesota's proposed gay marriage ban in 2012.
Hilton Go Out: Hilton is not only engaging in Pride parades and events, but making LGBT history by hosting the wedding reception for co-plaintiffs Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo of the "Proposition 8" Supreme Court case at the iconic Beverly Hilton hotel on June 28. We held the 25th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at Hilton hotels earlier this year and their social media team was all about spreading the photos and the message of LGBT equality through official brand channels.
YouTube/Google #ProudtoPlay: With the #ProudtoPlay campaign, YouTube went beyond LGBT visibility to play a role in advancing a real issue that several LGBT advocacy groups are working on: LGBT equality in sports. Like many of this year's Pride campaigns, YouTube didn't limit it to ad buys in LGBT media; rather, they changed the YouTube official logo and Google put a link to the campaign on google.com.
AT&T #LiveProud: Many brands are opting to provide platforms for LGBT people and allies to showcase their own Pride online, and AT&T's #LiveProud is giving everyone an exciting incentive: hanging out with gay singer Adam Lambert. AT&T does an excellent job of promoting equality through internal policies, external statements and visible and innovative marketing campaigns—showing their pride throughout the year and not just during Pride month, which is a best practice for LGBT marketing efforts. The company has a long history of supporting LGBT issues and non-profits, and earlier this year, used its platform as a US Olympic Committee sponsor to speak out against Russia's anti-LGBT laws.
Levi's Pride apparel: Levi's was one of the first brands to actively support the LGBT community. In fact, in 1992, Levi Strauss & Co. became the first Fortune 500 company to extend full benefits to the same-sex domestic partners of employees. Now, with the company's Pride 2014 product line benefiting local organizations, Levi is helping shoppers show that equality is always in fashion.
• Follow Rich on Twitter: @richferraro