How to win a PrideAM award
It’s a gloomy winter’s afternoon in Kings Cross, but the view of London’s sprawling streets from the Guardian’s high-rise headquarters is still a pretty picture. So, why are we all gathered around a screen instead?
The judging for this year’s Pride AM Award is in full swing.
Of course, I’m not going to tell you who the winner is. The scoring happens in secret, so I couldn’t if I wanted to. And anyway, you’re naughty for asking.
What I can tell you is that this is the second consecutive year that the MAA #DoDifferent Awards has run a Pride AM category. Its focus is on rewarding the best representation of LGBT+ in the year’s advertising. But it’s not as simple as voting for the glitteriest boobtube, the sexiest bear or the best use of a Madonna song.
The reach of the campaign; the honesty and the humanity of the portrayals; and whether or not the campaign gave something back to the community are the three most significant concerns that emerge from the judges’ conversations.
As ever, visibility is key to LGBT+ politics. Our enemies – and they come in many forms – will always try to marginalise us, downplay our considerable contributions, write us out of the history books and pretend we don’t or shouldn’t exist. So a brand that’s brave enough to show us to a mainstream audience and perhaps change a few hearts and minds in the process is likely to get those important bonus points.
Last year’s winning Guinness rugby campaign by AMV BBDO was a perfect example. It demonstrated Gareth Thomas’ turmoil in coming out to an audience who may never have considered the pressures it involves. The fact that it was the story of a decidedly non-stereotypical gay man was, I suspect, a revelation for many a viewer.
Then there’s the believability factor. Do the people in your ad feel genuine or do they more closely resemble a bunch of cobbled- together stereotypes that would have Frankenstein’s monster beating a hasty retreat?
While a brand may have good intentions, we’re highly attuned to spotting a half-hearted commitment.
For example, if you have a gay couple in your ad, are they holding hands? Cuddling? Kissing?
Or could these lovers easily be mistaken for best buds? Siblings? Someone chatting to the guy behind the counter in their dry cleaners?
If they fall into the latter list, it will get spotted pretty quickly. And it’s not just the Pride AM judges that notice – it’s every LGBT+ person that sees the ad.
Remember: We live it.
Now we’re talking visible intimacy here – not sex. Don’t confuse the two.
Any angry tweets you see in response to an LGBT+ inclusive ad will almost certainly make this erroneous conflation in an overload of double standards big enough to tear a hole in reality itself. But that’s just the hysteria of those blinded by prejudice not being able to imagine a gay couple in a non-sexual context. The rest of the population understands perfectly well that we watch our tellies and wallpaper our lounges and eat our chips just like anybody else.
No. Stop offering me your chips. I’m still not going to tell you who the winner is.
Lastly, how does your ad benefit the LGBT+ community? What is the positive knock-on effect of the way you’ve chosen to include and represent us? How was the campaign extended to do further good?
Diversity in advertising is proving to be its own reward. Audiences warm to inclusivity. The highly-touted Pink Pound awaits those brave enough to venture out, but none of us loves a fair-weather friend. Show us you really care.
All of this and more will have come under serious scrutiny by the time the winners are announced at the MAA’s #DoDifferent Awards on March 2nd. And you can be sure that Pride AM will be singing the praises of the LGBT+ champions.
You still want me to tell you who the winner is?
I said no.
Bribing me with booze won’t help.
I’m a professional. My lips are sealed.
Alright, make it a double…
Written by Phil Clements, Member and Spokesperson for PrideAM