From the Experts: Championing Inclusivity for the LGBTQ+ Community
The LGBTQ+ audience has experienced remarkable growth in recent years. A 2022 Gallup study revealed that approximately 7.2% of adults in the United States identified as LGBTQ+. Notably, Gen Z had the highest percentage of members self-identifying as LGBT, with ~20% embracing this identity. This expanding audience presents a significant opportunity for brands to connect and engage with a diverse and loyal customer base. By embracing inclusivity and authentically portraying the LGBTQ+ community in their marketing efforts, companies can tap into this growing market and build lasting relationships.
To commemorate Pride Month, we hosted a webinar featuring Julio Neira, Executive Producer/Creative Director, and Jonathan Chin, Vice President of Customer Acquisition and Media at SimpliSafe, moderated by David Nguyen, Senior Sales Director at LG Ad Solutions. The panel explored ways in which brands can stand up for the LGBTQ+ community not only during June, but throughout the entire year. They delved into the crucial topic of meaningful representation, urging brands to move beyond token gestures.
Below are the top three highlights from the webinar:
1. Rainbow of experiences and backgrounds: Frequently, the LGBTQ+ acronym is not consistently represented in its entirety. While progress has been made in recent times to improve lesbian and gay representation, there still exists a significant lack of understanding and accurate representation of transgender and gender nonconforming individuals. Additionally, many narratives pigeonhole characters into their sexual or gender identities, perpetuating stereotypes and neglecting their multi-dimensional personalities. At the same time, it is essential to acknowledge that not every facet of a person can be depicted on screen. The essence of effective storytelling lies in its ability to bring different communities together, highlighting the commonalities that bind them and promoting the normalization of being part of the LGBTQ+ community. Although certain aspects of an LGBTQ+ character’s identity or personality may not be explicitly portrayed, their character extends beyond their gender or sexual identity, enabling them to maintain relevance and resonate with the audience.
2. Ensuring a balance between $$ and core values: Achieving a balance between financial prosperity and upholding company values can present a formidable challenge for advertisers. Similar to how brands establish partner criteria around aspects like inventory quality and measurement standards, they should also establish boundaries and expectations around types of content that are unacceptable for advertising placement. This would include content that spreads misinformation or hateful rhetoric. By taking a stand and initiating discussions, companies can actively contribute to a broader dialogue at all levels, promoting understanding and acceptance, particularly regarding the LGBTQ+ community.
3. Selective Pride: Many companies actively participate in Pride Month activities, using the occasion to demonstrate their support for the LGBTQ+ community. However, this commitment often fades away once July arrives. Consumers are capable of discerning whether companies are genuinely living up to their professed values. They can see through superficial, token efforts and checkbox exercises. To maintain ongoing efforts throughout the year, companies need to prioritize diversity in their hiring practices. However, it is not sufficient to hire a single LGBTQ+ individual and expect them to plan and represent the entire LGBTQ+ agenda. This places an immense burden on them, as experiences may vary greatly depending on specific identities within the LGBTQ+ spectrum. Therefore, it is beneficial to collaborate with smaller companies specializing in multicultural marketing, as they have the expertise and nuanced understanding necessary to ensure authentic and inclusive engagement.
In 2023, efforts to support the LGBTQ+ community have faced setbacks. Providing a platform for LGBTQ+ voices is essential – representation and rights still lag, especially for the trans community. Discriminatory laws and restrictions enable others to marginalize and “otherize” the LGBTQ+ community. A shift towards heartwarming stories that humanize all individuals is vital to create a positive emotional connection through media. Increasing media representation is a hopeful step toward countering these negative narratives.