Jill Jacobson, head of health at Nativo, interviewed Jerry Daykin, senior media director, EMEA, GSK Consumer Healthcare Marketing, as part of the Brand Innovators Livecast, “Marketing to the LGBTQ+ Community.” We’ve compiled highlights and insights for advertisers on creating authentic relationships with the LGBTQ+ community.
NOTE: This transcript has been edited for length and clarity.
Jill Jacobson: What are some things brands and companies can do internally to establish their support for the LGBTQ+ community?
Jerry Daykin: I think the change in the logo pieces is already a slightly controversial one because again, from all sides, LGTBQ+ people can be quite critical of brands that have done it, because if you haven't got a perfect record, if you've got a history of being exposed for not supporting gay people or not supporting trans people in your business, is it true? Is it honest? Sometimes you get challenged, "What else are you doing? What are you doing internally?" Personally, I still think it's an important step, I still think it helps. It helps normalize. I would have loved to see it 20 years ago when I was a kid, so I think it's positive. But it's definitely step one.
It's exactly the right thing to ask: What are you doing internally? How are you treating your own people? Because if you're not even looking after your own people, then it's a bit cheeky to say that you're taking a big stand externally. For me, that begins in probably two ways. One we call ERGs, Employee Resource Groups, but depending on the size of your business, it depends on how possible that is.
But just think: The LGBTQ+ people in the business probably do have slightly different needs and worries and concerns, either by forming a group like that or by encouraging a role model or different initiatives. How can you give support, especially to junior LGBTQ+ people in your business who, as we heard from the stats, are potentially going to go back into hiding and not be confident being themselves?
I think there's an obvious sweep you can do of your policies, of your statements. There's some obvious cases like if you have a hiring process or internal documents, how do you treat gender? Do you just give a binary, "he," or, "she," option in your forms? But more than that, to do with equal rights for parental leave, how do you treat a gay couple that adopts a kid, versus a straight couple that adopts or has a kid, and thinking about how you can put policies like that really in place to make sure that your employees are treated equally.
When you put the rainbow logo up on your page, and often that does come because internal people have lobbied. I know at GSK it happened because Spectrum demanded it. We wanted to see it happen, and if you've got that internally lined up, then it's a good thing to be proud about.
Jill Jacobson: When it comes to how brands put together their overall marketing strategy, what are some specific channels that you've found to be really effective at reaching the LGBTQ+ community? And what are some programs that GSK's currently supporting?
Jerry Daykin: I hinted at it with the media piece, but there are some specific, diverse media publications out there, that serve the LGBTQ+ community specifically. I won't list any for possibly offending any of the ones that I don't mention, but they're out there and, absolutely, those are great ways of reaching the community. I think we all respond well to media and advertising that feels personalized, it feels tailored to us. I think there is evidence and research you can find that LGBTQ+ people think very positively of brands they see talking to them in those spaces. Ideally, I guess, with specific content but not necessarily even.
But of course, LGBTQ+ people are also, ultimately, tens of millions of fairly normal people who also use Facebook and Instagram and watch TV and lead some fairly mainstream, very normal lives. You can reach them through normal, mainstream media channels as well. You can sometimes use context and targeting. There can be certain TV shows or interests or things you might want to try and align with, but we're a mass audience you can reach in a mass way.
I think one thing we're really looking at is how those two things come together. We are, in the UK, doing a partnership with Gay Times on some content, so obviously they're creating content that's very specific to the LGBTQ+ audience, using it on their channels, using their network and their connections and using some of their influences and connections to make the content.
We are going to amplify that across mass reach channels, we're going to use Facebook and Instagram and Twitter, possibly some programmatic media and other things to get that out there to a broad audience, because we want to find the LGBTQ+ community, but we also want tell those same stories to a much broader audience, because we think they're going to be good ads.
Jill Jacobson: As someone who works in content, I see firsthand that the best consumer engagement is with creative that feels genuine. How do you incorporate these elements into brand content for the LGBTQ+ audience?
Jerry Daykin: I think you can do it in different ways. I think, definitely partnering with external partners who have specialism in this, whose day job is to create editorial in this space who are influencers with lived experience of this, that is certainly a shortcut to getting a degree of authenticity. It can start with your usual setup, whether you create in-house, whether you work with agencies. However you work, you can make it work.
For me, it's probably the same advice you'd give to any marketing or brand campaign, which is: Whatever piece of comms. you're going to produce needs to be relevant and meaningful to your brand. There's no point telling a fantastic, wonderful, beautiful story about pride and inclusion, and then just really randomly throwing your logo on the end of it. That's nice in a way, nice for the community, but it's probably not going to do a huge amount for your brand unless it's built on something your brand is: A platform your brand takes, a genuine use of the product. You don't literally have to show LGBTQ+ people drinking your drink or something, but it has to be in line with your brand, in line with authentically what you stand for.
If your brand does have a genuine role in people's lives, then talk about that. Talk about what you do with those communities. I think that's true of all advertising. If you make any super lofty, purpose-based adverts that have no connection back to your brand, doesn't have it involved in any way, that's tough to feel truly authentic.
Again, come back to your people, to your colleagues, understand: What is the authentic way in for your brand? Or, how do you take an existing brand platform, slogan, advert that you make, and adapt that so it feels true to yourself?
Jill Jacobson: What are some other brands that are telling that story in the right way?
Jerry Daykin: I saw a campaign last year that Verizon did in the US that was really about the deep, emotional, quite harsh truth. When you come out to family members, often they disconnect with you, they stop talking to you, and it was about trying to reconnect people who've maybe stopped talking, getting them to pick up the phone and talk to each other again. It was quite hard to watch, but I liked it because it was very true to how, they're a telecoms company, and they're talking about making phone calls. Phone calls are boring, but the emotive reason why you make the phone call is incredibly interesting.
Jill Jacobson: How can brands and vendors, keep the momentum [of Pride Month] going, and keep this movement top of mind all year round?
Jerry Daykin: I think Pride Month is fantastic, because it galvanizes people's attention and gets us talking and thinking. It creates lots of opportunities on the ground, in a normal year, to activate. But absolutely, everything we've talked about is stuff that you can do all year round. LGBTQ+ people continue to exist, they continue to buy, they continue to be positive representations. Actually, to an extent, Pride Month gets very crowded, everyone has a rainbow logo, everyone's saying similar things.
You can be much more distinctive if you talk about this stuff at other times of year and you keep consistent support. If you have consistent support, then by the time you get to Pride month, you'll find it's much easier to spike it, to scale it up, no one will question your authenticity because they'll have seen you doing it all year long.
Absolutely, I think advertising as soon as July 1st comes, it's not time to put down the tools, it's time to think about: How do you keep it going?
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