Producing with Pride: 3 Steps Brands Can Take to Capture the LGBTQ+ Voice in Production

By thesanfranciscoegotist / /

Happy Monday! We hope you had a great weekend and enjoyed all the fabulous Pride festivities. As a wrap-up to that, check out this great piece from Elyse Preiss, Head of Production at Portal A about how brands can capture the LGBTQ+ audience in an authentic and meaningful way.


The spending power of the LGBTQ+ community is real – and growing – on its way to hitting the trillion dollar mark in annual sales. This is also a community that is as discerning as it is influential, with 78% of LGBTQ+ consumers supporting companies that market directly to the community itself.  Naturally, brands are catching onto this consumer sentiment, especially in June when the tidal wave of Rainbow-washing comes crashing into mainstream America. 

But if something about using Pride-themed Listerine leaves a bitter taste in your mouth, you’re not alone. So many of these Pride campaigns fail to accurately and authentically capture the LGBTQ+ voice. Brands may start off with the right idea, bring on an LGBTQ+ writer, even donate considerable sums to LGBTQ+ causes, but when production kicks in, their marketers rely on their standard formula of execution. The result is a campaign that comes across as lip service and misses the mark by a considerable margin, by failing to actually speak to LGBTQ+ consumers, regardless of good intentions.  

So how can brands and marketers get it right? Put simply, by instilling LGBTQ+ voices, ideals, history, and culture in each step of campaign execution.  

Get a queer crew in your corner 

While inclusivity has become the latest buzzword and checkbox for brands and marketers alike, few take the steps to practice what they preach down-the-line. It is not enough to simply hire a queer Executive Producers, Directors, or talent. The set should be filled with members of the community (from Cinematographers, to Grips, to Production Assistants, etc.) in order to create an environment that bolsters queer expression. 

It all starts with your producer. Hire an LGTBTQ+ producer who is more likely to have a network of queer crew recommendations. Your producer should be tasked with prioritizing diversity in hiring (and diversity within the community itself, not just white cis gay men, but women, people of color, trans people, and those who identify as non-binary). Those crew members your producer hired could be the ones to help ensure that you are capturing the LGBTQ+ voice in your production. In the end, it will be your script supervisor who catches misgendering in your messaging or your casting associate who hires their queer friends as extras.

Ultimately, it’s important to make it clear to your producer and your team that they need to hire with diversity in mind, not just for diversity-sake, but for the betterment of the campaign. 

Choose your icons wisely – less Madonna, more Hayley Kiyoko

After you’ve put the right people in place up and down-the-line, encourage those folks to draw on their own experiences and the experiences of their community, while executing the details of your campaign. For example, the styling – wardrobe, hair, and makeup – of your queer actors and models should reflect current queer culture and fashion, not out-of-date stereotypes or clichés. Your queer wardrobe stylist will know that only some lesbians prefer to dress like lumberjacks. 

This tactic can be applied to the production of each detail of your content; from your location choices (try filming in current queer spaces or queer neighborhoods) to your music licensing (try using music from up-and-coming queer artists or instead of from the standard list of outdated queer icons). If you find that the only queer element of your production design is rainbow flags, you’ve done something wrong. 

By creating an immersively queer world with the details, the LGBTQ+ consumers you are trying to reach will have a better chance of seeing themselves reflected in the content you are producing, and thus have a greater chance of buying into your messaging. 

Divide your budget one LGBTQ letter at a time

Though you might have one “big idea” that speaks to the LGTBQ+ community as a whole, consider breaking down that idea to specifically target different subsets of the community. Despite being part of the same queer family, the only thing I have in common with my gay neighbor is our shared love of Celine Dion. He and I have different interests and tastes, and the best ways brands can reach us is through specificity. 

Don’t let your budget get in the way or prioritizing this strategy. If you’ve set aside a budget for the production of one massive spot, consider dividing that up to make five or six smaller-scoped spots so that each spot reflects a specific subset of the LGBTQ+ umbrella. A high-production value piece won’t resonate as much to queer consumers as a piece that speaks to them in a very specific way. 

Consider the Harry’s: Shave, or Don’t campaign. No rainbows, no buzz words, but a simple inclusion of a transman in his own world. This is how you reach your intended audience, but demonstrating that you see and understand them, and that your products are for them, specifically. 

When your Pride marketing campaign revs up for 2020 (maybe it already has), just remember that the buck doesn’t stop with a good idea, queer writers and directors, or even putting your money where your mouth is (though you should do these things too). You can’t just preach “authenticity,” you need to deliver it – by taking tactical steps in production to actually capture the voice of your target consumers. 


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