Demonstrating Pride through Advertising

June is Pride Month, when LGBTQ+ individuals, allies and advocacy organizations come together to celebrate the community. It may look like one big rainbow glitter party, but the event is also a call for greater unity and visibility, awareness of ongoing issues of inequality and a time to take stock of the advances and setbacks made in the last year.

Pride Month also provides an opportunity for brands to show their support of the LGBTQ+ community, as demonstrated by the wash of rainbows that suddenly appear in branding and advertising in late May. While many companies are genuinely committed to supporting the LGBTQ+ community, the question of authenticity does arise, especially when things go a little grayer on July 1st. And a recent UK study found that while one in 10 LGBTQ+ people have been targeted by ads based on their sexual orientation, only one in five say it was a positive experience.

How can brands that are truly walking the walk help to further elevate LGBTQ+ people and their experiences? And, as the purpose of advertising is to build a brand, can advertising that chooses “brand purpose” also be effective? Our Feeling Seen USA report is a how-to guide for brands and agencies on how to create great ads that embrace inclusiveness and tell unique stories while delivering commercial impact.

Feeling Seen is Important

Feeling Seen USA showcases some of the best, most effective advertising creative in the world that puts diversity front and center. We conducted over 150 ad tests with over 18,000 respondents using our Test Your Ad platform, which uses emotional response as a predictor of long-term brand growth.

Fifteen percent of the ads we tested specifically featured LGBTQ+ characters and stories. We found the best ads that scored highly among the general population and identified the key metrics that helped boost those scores. Not surprisingly, these ads were even more effective with the LGBTQ+ sample, an uplift we call the “diversity dividend” – when an ad goes from very good to great.

We identified the emotional drivers, including the creative elements that elicited the strongest responses and built empathy among respondents. We built out a framework for creative guidance and included insights from brands and agencies who are bringing a diversity, equity and inclusion lens to the entire strategic process.

Inclusion Drives Happiness, Purchases and Acceptance

Embracing diversity and inclusion in advertising gives visibility to people who are often underrepresented. The more LGBTQ+ people can see themselves in advertising, the safer and more comfortable they can feel living as their authentic selves. According to a joint 2019 report from GLAAD and P&G, three in four non-LGBTQ people are very comfortable with seeing an LGBTQ person in ads, and 70% are comfortable seeing an LGBTQ family with children in a commercial. The study also highlights how exposure to LGBTQ people in the media influences comfortability and acceptance. Feeling Seen USA found that ads that embraced diversity and inclusion actually scored higher among the general population than the average U.S. ad. 

If representation can lead to greater acceptance, it’s a win-win for brands and agencies to tell more LGBTQ+ stories. Learn more about successful LBGTQ+ advertising in System1’s Feeling Seen USA report and strategies for creating commercially effective diverse ads. 

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