If you want to get Pride marketing right this year, now is the time to start.
from Studio Morrow's Thoughts on Things
Welcome back to the newsletter from Studio Morrow, serving you monthly hits of my POV on culture so you can form yours.
It may seem like weird to get an email about Pride in January, but hear me out.
If there’s one thing I can say about the queer community it’s that we’re optimistic, critical and a little petty. We’d love for brands to get it right with Pride, but as I’ve written before, more often than not we’re left DMing each other cringe pride campaigns and making amazing memes about pinkwashing. It’s not because we’re trying to be assholes (not always anyway), it’s just that Pride as marketing moment has become more than a little performative.
Goes without saying that seeing the increasingly widespread support for the queer community each year is important and heartwarming, but it also makes it easier and easier for brand marketers to slap a logo on a rainbow flag, corral their gayest employees or dress the CEO in drag for an internal film, pat themselves on the back and call it a day.
Probably the first error in the Pride equation is that most agencies are briefed on Pride around March. The end result of that process can pretty much exclusively be the production of a brand film that goes live in the summer. I’m not suggesting to think about it in January to give production a two month head start (sry production bbs).
I’m suggesting to de-couple the idea of Pride from a marketing calendar all together. I think the fatigue around Pride marketing is partly that it has become a false harbinger of progress around gay rights. People assume because Pride is so commercial that we’ve solved gay. (Not to mention the fact that we seem to have forgotten entirely that Pride is protest.)
The reality is that against the background of this corporate posturing, I had yet to work somewhere that I would truly consider queer friendly before I went to work for myself. Queer tolerant, sure. But not queer friendly.
By queer friendly I mean a place where pronouns are used universally on email signatures and at the start of meetings alike. Where there are gender neutral bathrooms in every location that a male/female bathroom situation exists. Where there are resources for emotional safety and management leadership training for managing queer employees. Where queer people are in positions of leadership. Where you can count the number of non-cis employees on more than one finger. . Where hangover days after Pride parties are part of the vacation policy (before you cancel me, that last one was a joke).
And that’s just internally. Externally, I’ve barely seen a single queer positive marketing campaign run outside of Pride month.
Instead of throwing money into a Pride campaign, I’d love to see brands refocus that energy into championing queer commitments, internally and externally, at literally any other point of the year.
I know it feels counterproductive, but it’s the easiest way to show the queer community you’re really invested, and not just riding the very crammed rainbow bandwagon.
tl;dr why wait until March to make something kind of performative, when you could use that same energy and budget to doing something way more meaningful right now?
As always, feel free to hit me up if you agree or mildly disagree :)
If you avert your attention to your left, you’ll see a rare selection of three things I liked on the internet this month:
-Swelling with hometown pride as LVMH invests in Aimé Leon Dore
-It might be dark as shit every night by 4pm here in Amsterdam, but at least Jonah Hill & Baby Yoda squashed the beef
Thanks again for your attention and for subscribing. I am beyond grateful that in in a world where you could be using this time to watch the latest Euphoria mind fuck, you have chosen to spend it with mine instead.
See you in a month!