Brands showing their Pride

Jul 10, 2018

Following on from last Saturday’s Pride parade in London, we explore how global brands are celebrating the LGBTQ+ community this year


In an era when it is becoming increasingly important for brands and retailers to promote the ideals of inclusivity, equality and acceptance, more brands than ever are championing the LGBTQ+ community to show that they support diversity amongst their staff and their customers.

Almost 50 years on from the first Pride event in New York, more than 1,000 Parades and Festivals are thought to run globally now, with brands participating very actively in the celebrations either as sponsors, or by creating limited-edition products and campaigns that highlight the struggles of the community.

In the UK, Pride events run all throughout the summer, from late spring until early autumn. With the Pride Parade in London, where GDR’s HQ is based, taking place last Saturday, we thought it was an ideal opportunity to see how brands are supporting the LGBTQ+ community this year.

Here are the campaigns and activations that stood out to us:

Babbel’s Russian Lessons For Everyone

Language app Babbel released a campaign in Germany and Spain for its Russian language courses to coincide with the World Cup. Responding to host country Russia’s anti-gay legislation, the #BabbelForAll campaign focuses on same-sex couples and promotes the Russian phrases “I’m married to a woman” and “I’m married to a man.”

Billboards for the campaign appeared in the Berlin Ostbahnhof station, which has trains direct to Moscow, encouraging the community to travel to the World Cup with confidence.


Björn Borg Marriage Unblocked

Like Babbel and Paddy Power, which featured in our World Cup blog last month, Swedish clothing brand Björn Borg has also used the popular soccer tournament to leverage its commitment to LGBTQ+ equality.

The brand recently launched the Marriage Unblocked campaign, which allows couples living in the 87% of countries in the world that don’t recognise same-sex marriage to make a permanent commitment to each other via a blockchain-powered platform. At the opening game of the World Cup between Russia and Saudi Arabia, neither of which recognise same-sex marriage, fans could use an augmented reality feature to make it look as if a large banner was moving across the crowd featuring two men kissing, along with the tagline Love Will Win Tonight.


Costa Pride Cups

UK coffee shop Costa has released a limited-edition range of rainbow cups to celebrate its LGBTQ+ staff. The chain is a member of parent company Whitbread’s GLOW (Gay Lesbian Out at Whitbread) team and the cups are available in limited locations across the UK. Jason Cotta, Costa Coffee’s managing director UK & Ireland, said: “Our all new rainbow cups are a fun way to celebrate Pride and reflect Costa Coffee’s values of equality, and diversity. We are passionate about championing team members’ rights to work in an inclusive, supportive environment. We’re so proud of the achievements of the GLOW team and look forward to seeing them marching at many of the Pride Parades across the UK.”


Ikea Dräg

Ikea in Canada illustrated its acceptance of diversity with its Dräg campaign. It collaborated with 10 drag queens to create runway-ready outfits made out of everyday IKEA products, such as shower curtains, lamps and laundry bags.

According to Ikea Canada: “the campaign embraces the creativity and openness of drag culture, sharing an overall message of acceptance and individual expression.” The brand also partnered with Toronto Pride, where 250 members of Ikea staff marched in the parade.


Absolute All Flavours Welcome

Pernod Ricard vodka brand Absolut worked with Exterion Media, Posterscope and Havas Media to launch two rainbow coloured double decker buses in London. The buses bear slogans including “All Flavours Welcome” and “Acceptance without exception”, while a digital screen on the exterior runs geo-targeted campaigns as it moves throughout the streets of the UK capital.

Interestingly, passengers are able to donate to the LGBTQ+ equality charity, Stonewall, by tapping their smartphones on the back of seats, which have NFC chips built into them.


Brighton Gin

Independent gin brand Brighton Gin created a limited-edition range to celebrate the UK city’s Pride Festival. Each product in the eight-item range comes in a bottle bearing one letter of the city’s name, backed by a different colour of the rainbow. When merchandised together they spell out Brighton and create a rainbow-effect. For every bottle sold, £2 goes to The Rainbow Fund, a Brighton-based fund for local LGBTQ+ and HIV/AIDS organisations.


Train Pride

UK train operator Virgin has launched its #ridewithpride campaign fronted by a train with a rainbow paint job.

As part of what Virgin is calling its Summer of Pride, the train will travel between London and Edinburgh through the summer, dropping passengers at Pride events throughout the country.

The first featured Pride event was in Birmingham on 26 May, and it will continue to operate until Manchester Pride on 24 August. During the week it is running as a standard train.



Interestingly Great Western Railway, which operates between London Paddington and the West Coast, has launched a similar campaign to celebrate the Cardiff, Bristol and Reading Pride events.


Yo Sushi High Street Kensington

Japanese street food restaurant YO! Sushi celebrated its sponsorship of the London Pride Parade by removing all branding from the outside of its High Street Kensington location. Its whited out window displays now feature images of a set of bowls in rainbow colours and the slogan “No Labels, Just Pride”. The words: “More Pride inside. Open as usual” also appear above the door.

Richard Hodgson, CEO of YO! said: “We have always prided ourselves on our diverse values and have always strived to be respectful, unconventional, colourful and confident, or RUCC as we call it. At YO! we are passionate about inclusivity and individualism, which is why we are so excited and honoured to be involved in this year’s Pride in London. We hope our ‘No labels. Just Pride.’ campaign helps raise awareness for the LGBTQ+ community.”

The bowl set featured on the windows is available to buy for £20, with £1 of each sale going towards the UK Pride Organisers Network.


Marmite Spread love, not hate

British condiment brand Marmite put a playful twist on its quirky “Love us or Hate us” brand identity for a limited-edition LGBTQ+ packaging release. The Pride jar features a rainbow label with the wording “Spread love, not hate.” The jars can also be personalised on the Marmite ecommerce site.

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