Over The Rainbow

5 Guiding Principles on How to Create Impactful Campaigns & Avoid Rainbow Washing. Nobody wants to rainbow wash. It has a negative effect on brands and organisations, and on the LQBTQ+ community. When it comes to marketing and communications for Pride, there are five simple rules of engagement that can help empower you.

Darius Pasalar, Droga5

5/1/20243 min read

Nobody wants to rainbow wash...

It has a negative effect on brands and organisations, and on the LQBTQ+ community. When it comes to marketing and communications for Pride, there are five simple rules of engagement that can help empower you.

When using these rules of engagement, remember they’re not a holy text, but more simple ways to help make work to be proud of at Pride.

Before we get to the graft behind the glitter of Pride, I have a small personal note. As a nation, we have come so far – but we have further to go. I hope these tried and tested rules help provoke a practical level of thinking and action, so we all can be equal, celebrated, and safe.

Now, let's get into it:

Purpose: What’s the alignment between the client, charity partner, and Pride’s purpose?

Whether it’s continuing a commitment to Pride or just starting out, take it all back to the purpose of all of the players at hand. As a first step, it allows us to recognise where there is common ground between everyone involved.

I recognise that for some organisations and brands this can be more apparent than others, but for human-centric brands there should always be an alignment.

If they’re not all aligned, it’s not going to work. So is this all about purpose advertising? Yes, and no.

We are in a period where purpose-led communications are under question, as we’ve seen through sources such as the IPA data base, but let’s not forget the alignment of purposes doesn’t always mean advertising. We need to be open to the elasticity of brand purposes and how they can manifest in the world.

Proof: Have strong proof points and credentials from a brand side. Don’t expect to just hide behind a partner’s credentials or worse offer an empty pledge.

Personality: Partner and brand personalities need to be themselves; don’t try and adopt a persona that just isn’t true. Remember that Pride has its own personality, that’s both party fun time and political activism.

Commitment transparency across the board has never been more important. Be that in the world of ESG (Environment, Society, Governance), Pride, Gender Pay Gap, etc; it’s across the board.

A great example of this lies in the Rainbow Washing Detector, an app that exposes LGBTQ+ support beyond the Pride month profits. An app that allows people, in real time to see the proof behind the rainbow promise.

Tangible commitments and actions are required, not just showing up on the day. This can be through policy, real-world action, financial or practical support, etc. Notably, having this proof in place negates Rainbow Washing while also allowing the brand activity to have much more value.

We’ve seen that when this lands in a place that isn’t genuine, people can quickly call it out.

Just as with any community it’s made of many different personalities, and that’s a great thing.

Everyone is welcome, so be yourself.

Lend don’t take: The final point, and it’s a big one.

Here the main takeaway is when looking at audience segmentation for both insight generation and who we’re talking to it’s always about the LGBTQ+ community. That doesn’t mean it can’t ripple out to a wider audience, but always ask yourself:

‘Who are we making this for?’.

Equally, as with every other community or group of people, we’re not homogenous. There as different needs, wants, and nuances.

From a research and data perspective working from the Pride theme out and having a deep immersion (both qual and quant) is where true insight will lie. Uncovering an insight in this manner allows brands to be truly authentic, and an understanding of the community allows brands to work using the community out model.

The only way to be authentic is to be authentic.

Community out: Always go LGBTQ+ community out and remember each year Pride has a specific focus/theme based on the community.

This is a chance to lend your brand voice to a community and cause.

If you’re using Pride or the community for purely a brand affinity play, or for a brand agenda you’re taking, you’re not lending your voice and influence to do good. We’ve come a long way as a nation, but the journey isn’t over.

The golden rule. Always lend don’t take.

I hope you find these rules of engagement as ergonomic as possible. Use them not to inhibit work but to make work to be proud of, a reality.