Remember, Remember the Pride Brand Makeover

Remember, Remember the Pride Brand Makeover

Fair enough - the Pride Brand Makeover took place on November 1st rather than the 5th, but attendees did witness a veritable explosion of creativity. From senior citizens to drag DIY, all kinds of LGBT+ inclusive work was on show. Let’s climb up that rainbow to get an overview…

“What is the Pride Brand Makeover?” I hear you ask. As if unprompted.

“The Pride Brand Makeover is all about de-risking the process of pushing for LGBT inclusion in marketing and advertising for everyone,” says Asad Dhunna, spokesperson for PrideAM. “It was free to enter, the work didn’t have to run, we didn’t expect finished concepts and absolutely anyone could enter." Hosted in conjunction with Gay Times, we asked clients and agencies to submit work to be judged by industry peers. There were 24 entries from different brands overall and these were gradually whittled down to the five best.

But before we get to the golden geese in this tale, let’s set the scene…

In the packed out basement venue at DigitasLBi, the assembled media multitudes gather to find out the results of the UK’s largest LGBT+ focused advertising challenge. Absolut, sponsors and long-time advocates of LGBT+ inclusivity, are helping to grease the gears with a selection of free refreshments.

CEO and Owner of Gay Times, James Frost introduces us to the evening and hands over to Mark Runacus, President of PrideAM, who explains organisation’s ongoing mission, then welcomes the first two of tonight’s keynote speakers to the stage, Rosie Arnold and Arthur Jones of AMV BBDO.

Jones is the Senior Account Manager for the Mars Chocolate portfolio and he’s here to talk to us about their Snickers entry and it’s a smart insight on the intersectional nature of diversity.

There’s a little problem with the old Snickers ‘You’re Not You’ campaign. Can you spot it?

You may recall a demanding Joan Collins or a peevish Aretha Franklin being turned into much more agreeable menfolk with a bite of a Snickers. Is the implication that a man who’s not at his best is acting like a woman? Problematic.

Well AMV BBDO’s idea is to cleverly flip that expectation. They unveil a number of charming storyboards that tell the tale of a glamorous yet petulant Ru Paul refusing to help a decorator put up a shelf. With a swift chomp on a Snickers, grumpy Ru is transformed, not into a rugged hero of a handyman, but an even more fabulous Ru in a flourish of red and gold fabrics, with heels so high that no ladder is needed.

"Snickers is all about being yourself and we felt that was a really exciting place to explore,” Rosie Arnold, creative partner and head of art at AMV BBDO, tells us. "Also the whole campaign was launched in the UK using Joan Collins appearing as a diva. We were saying when you’re not yourself, you’re a diva. But we faced in to that and said, that’s not a bad thing – it should be something we celebrate."

This concept is very well-received, but more on that later.

The next two keynote speakers to step on stage are Matthew Waksman, senior planner at Karmarama and Gordon Lee, CMO of Army Recruitment at Capita. It’s testament to the far-reaching success of diversity initiatives that the British Army is with us here today - a stark contrast to the recent stance taken by a more prejudiced government elsewhere in the world. The presentation involves videos and slides from Karmarama’s ‘This Is Belonging’ campaign illustrating the Army’s commitment to inclusivity. The high point is of course the very recognisable rainbow camo cream that appeared in Pride In London and various other Pride parades around the country.

Keynote speakers number three are Gaia Charlotte Gilardini, Global Communications Director at Absolut and Jenny King, senior brand manager at Absolut. They take us through a history of LGBT+ inclusive ads that the brand has been involved in and unveil a challenging new piece of video content.

“Freedom of choice goes beyond sexual preference, LGBTQ+ plays a role in it but we see it as a broader piece that includes all kinds of people,” Gilardini explains.

PrideAM is certainly on the look out for more pioneering brands like Absolut, who were the original sponsors of Ru Paul’s Drag Race.  

Now it’s time to bestow ‘Best In Show‘ certificates and here are the five most worthy recipients…

The Army – This Is Belonging (Karmarama)

Snickers – You’re Not You (AMV BBDO)

Lloyds Bank – For The Next Step (adam&eveDDB)

Tommee Tippee – 24 Hour Mum (MRM Meteorite)

Age UK – No-one Should Have No-one (Drum)

By now I’m sure we’re all familiar with Lloyds Bank’s bold ‘he said yes, ‘I haven’t changed’ and ‘takes after his mums’ posters. The ads were placed in branches all over the country. The TV ad included a same-sex proposal. Of course this is a winner.

Tommee Tippee reimagined the baby brand’s online content series. When it comes to night-time feeds, messy dinnertimes and early toilet situations, the conversation does not change in the slightest if hetero parents are replaced with LGBTQ+ partnerships.

“Now we can truly say that Tommee Tippee helps all parents feel like they aren't on this crazy, messy and amazing journey alone,” said the agency.

And finally we come to Age UK’s entry, featuring ‘David, 79, widowed after the death of his partner Simon’. We are told that the judges labelled the work as particularly brave, given the presumed conservative nature of Age UK beneficiaries and supporters.

“Isolation for older LGBT+ people is a big concern because it is two-fold,” Mark Runacus says as he reads Drum’s entry aloud. “Not only isolation from the heteronormative and potentially prejudiced world at large, but also isolation from the LGBTQ+ community, with real life LGBTQ+ spaces being eroded and a scene dwindling in the face of phone apps.”

The Pride Brand Makeover really did bring out the best in inclusive advertisers and demonstrated just how broad the topic of LGBT+ representation can be. The evening was a roaring success and if you weren’t there, why not? Pride AM events are your chance to share in some of the most progressive ideas in the industry.

At PrideAM, we find that what frequently prevents brands from including more LGBT+ representation is the sheer fear of getting it wrong.

Well don’t be scared, come to our next event.

Written by Phil Clements, Member and Spokesperson for PrideAM

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