Companies and brands recently took part in LGBTQ+ Pride celebrations across the globe. While it’s meaningful to see allyship and support from their platforms, advocacy and showcasing authentic and diverse representation are important as well. There’s a fine balance between meaningfully celebrating Pride as an organization and performative marketing that falls short. Recognizing this, Comcast Advertising on July 14 hosted Pride: Beyond a Logo, a virtual conversation which explored sustainable solutions for how organizations can genuinely show Pride and support the LGBTQ+ community all year long.
The panelists were Paul Martecchini, Vice President, Brand Marketing, Comcast Advertising; Jose Velez Silva, Vice President, Multicultural IMC Brand Marketing, Xfinity, and Ayiko Broyard, Executive Vice President, Group Account Director, Walton Isaacson.
Before the event, in an exclusive interview with MediaVillage, Martecchini highlighted the work Comcast is already doing. “[We] saw the need for inclusion and really formalized this into a program," he said. "It’s really great to be a part of that. Whether the topic is LGBT+ or a focus on other marginalized groups within this company, the work extends to support everyone."
The event also highlighted other inclusive companies, recognizing the importance not only of engaging the business community for Pride month but remaining mindful of how Pride can be shown, and inclusion can be shared, throughout the entire year, every year. Xfinity was highlighted for an advertisement celebrating not only June but that “Pride is Universal.” All year long, Xfinity users can say “Pride” into their remote controls and their televisions will populate inclusive content options for them to explore and enjoy.
Velez Silva shared that he is quite proud of this and has been really thrilled with how Xfinity has stepped up more in 2021 than ever before. “What excited me about this year’s Pride is how engaged companies have been with our LGBT+ community," he explained. "I’ve seen more engagement than ever before.” He recognized Levi’s for not only adding rainbows to some of their items for Pride month but including genderqueer, gender non-conforming, and others in their ongoing advertisements.
“Some brands decided to dip their toes into celebrating Pride, [and] not just on the surface," Broyard noted. "They really came out strong, creating apparel with sales going to much needed LGBT+ organizations such as HRC and The Trevor Project. It was thoughtful and intentional. I am really appreciative that this was not a play to get money but rather a way to give to the community. This community holds brands’ feet to the fire and is very loyal. I think these brands know that they must really support the community, not just pretend to do this for the month of June for their own profit. June 2021 expanded exposure, it expanded the marketplace, and I am going to continue to push for this.”
The three panelists spent quite a bit of time sharing thoughts and experiences in the workplace, oscillating between the importance of ongoing engagement with the LGBT+ community and discussing how they have watched some companies improve while others still have more room to grow in becoming more inclusive. “We are taking the right steps,” Velez Silva said.
Martecchini agreed. “In a recent study, 80% of those who participated showed that brands supporting equality will get more of their business this year,” he noted.
Velez Silva broke it down into "Four Key Principles for Marketing": 1) governance in leadership (support from the top), 2) diverse workforce (inclusion happening inside the company), 3) supplier diversity (working with those who represent everyone) and 4) inclusive programming (offerings for all types of people with all types of backgrounds, goals, and needs). Without these principles in place, he said, a company cannot begin to authentically market to the LGBT+ community and claim to be inclusive.
Broyard noted that Walton Isaacson has been doing LGBT+ marketing intentionally and methodically for more than thirteen years, grounding it in authentic strategy, partnering with HRC and GLAAD Media to ensure that brands are getting it right and aligning with overarching strategies for LGBT+ inclusion.
When moving from sponsorship to marketing to the LGBT+ audience, it was intentional not to do so in a vacuum or just in June, she explained, adding that this type of work must be 360 and all year, and not just in LGBT+ focused marketing but in all major media in all major platforms. She highlighted the use of MJ Rodriguez (a transgender woman of color and the Emmy-nominated star of Pose) in the launch of the IS for Lexus, which ran in all major markets. McDonald’s also sought to run a more public campaign from outside the company to the consumer market and partnered with Out 100.
Throughout the panel, much attention was given to the recognition that, though the LGBT+ community is united, there is much diversity within the members of the group, within different identities, and within different experiences of shared identities. Accordingly, companies such as Snapchat and Facebook have offered filters and backgrounds of a variety of flags and other identifiers which users can choose when they wish to self-identify in a more public way. The panelists agreed that mindfulness about this and offering self-chosen categorizations can be key to ensuring everyone feels welcome and included.
After it concluded, Martecchini shared with MediaVillage that his favorite part of the panel was talking with others in this field and “hearing from them about the challenges they’ve had within their company career progression and their feelings of insecurities as well as how they’ve worked through them.”
That is definitely something to have pride about!
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