Pride Marketing in the Time of COVID-19
Senior Project Manager, Field Services
Many might wonder if Pride celebrations are even happening this year with large gatherings out of the question, especially in major metropolitan areas. And while the country is slowly emerging from a spring lockdown due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the LGBTQ community and our allies recognize the importance of supporting one another now more than ever.
But it goes without saying: June is looking much different in 2020. Many organizers are pivoting to virtual platforms, and many cities will be hosting online events in lieu of parades and parties. And while organizers aren’t entirely certain what 2020’s Pride will look like, many corporate donors are still thinking of creative ways to be involved.
One major brand to make a significant change to their marketing strategy this year is Skittles. The company is rolling out its “Give the Rainbow” campaign in the U.S., where they are removing color from packaging and the candies themselves. Although the campaign has launched in several other countries in recent years, by removing the color, the candy brand is replacing it with a visible stand of solidarity with the LGBTQ community. In addition to the packaging change, the brand will donate $1 for every package sold to GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), capping the total at $100,000. Still, that’s a nice chunk of change, needed now more than ever as donations to LGBTQ organizations have slowed in recent months.
As large-scale Pride events go virtual this June, we will undoubtedly see corporate logos pop up on our screens as we celebrate at home. Most major cities, including New York City and Chicago, have plans to move the festivities online, and both cities already have corporate sponsors on board. And Global Pride – a 24-hour streaming celebration taking place June 27, 2020 – will most likely draw a large online crowd and will be a very visible way for corporations to show their support.
However, online and in-person events are two very different beasts as far as money goes. According to a recent article in Adweek, in a ‘normal’ year, corporations fund LGBTQ celebration to the tune of $10,000 to $1 million. With most in-person Pride events canceled this year, many are left wondering if these usually-supportive companies will funnel their earmarked budgets into other worthwhile LGBTQ causes and organizations. Recently, media personality and advocate Ashlee Marie Preston launched the #PridePledge, which asks the important question:
What’s happening to all that money now that Pride has effectively been canceled for the first time in decades due to the pandemic?
The #PridePledge asks that corporations reallocate their hefty donations toward COVID-19 related efforts to help save LGBTQ lives during the pandemic. On the flip side, many past contributors may not have the funds to contribute this year. The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) recently announced that nearly 90% of large multinational companies had deferred marketing campaigns in May, and June will most likely be no different. While no major #PridePledge donors have come forward yet, there’s still time for this to play out.
In closing, it’s important to remember that Pride isn’t about the money or the corporate sponsorships. It’s about the people. In recent months, we’ve seen inspiring stories about communities coming together in a time of need. So in 2020, as we navigate the current climate, remind yourself that Pride was not canceled this year. Pride is happening right now, and it’s the most authentic it’s been in decades.