Work / Advertising

LGBT in advertising: “What we need now is bravery"

Earlier this week PrideAM and Diva magazine published the results of a competition inviting agencies to “challenge the hetero norms” and raise the profile of LGBT people in advertising. The winners, Drum and Iris, re-invented well-known campaigns with lesbian couples as the stars. Scott Knox, founder of PrideAM (Pride in Advertising and Marketing), the first LGBT+ group for the advertising and marketing industry, and MD of the Marketing Agencies Association, spoke to It’s Nice That about how the results could promote diversity.

“When Diva magazine’s editor Jane Czyzselska approached me with this idea, I jumped at it. It was simple: a way to push advertising to be more LGBT+ inclusive and effective is to inspire and show how it can be done. It was also interesting for PrideAM to look at this competition from the point of view of lesbian and bi women. Arguably the LGBT+ agenda is very gay male focused.

As well as being a proud, gay dad, I am also a proud member of the advertising industry. I knew that setting a project like this for the sector would deliver amazing results and Drum and Iris proved me right. There were many other brilliant entries and ideas, some of which didn’t see the light of day due to some of the brands not wanting to participate, which is telling in itself.  All in all creative people, when briefed to inspire, will deliver cracking campaigns. What we now need is for bravery to come through from brands to request this sort of work more and more.

There have been some great examples of advertising representing or targeting LGBT+ consumers. Earlier this year PrideAM gave its first ever award, as part of the Marketing Agencies Association’s (MAA’s) #dodifferent awards, to AMV BBDO for the Guinness Rugby World Cup advert that featured Gareth Thomas. Not only was it a beautifully crafted piece of work, but the brand got behind it and spent its money on prime time TV slots during the Rugby World Cup itself. All too often brands commission a great piece of LGBT+ advertising, to then slightly hide it in a viral space rather than making it big and bold through media spend. Bravo Guinness for this commitment to LGBT+ equality.

Founding PrideAM was about celebrating diversity in the talent within the advertising industry and increasing LGBT+ representation in advertising itself. So I am really happy this competition achieved the results it did. Now on to the next project."

Iris agency said of its entry, This is the Real Thing, which subverted a well-known Coca-Cola advert:
“In the last few years, we’ve started seeing gay couples in ads, but it tends to feel either tokenistic or exploitative; good-looking ‘two dads’ types or sexy lesbians fresh from a Nuts centrefold. We wanted to make an ad with a real couple that positively reflects our culture today. When it came to choosing a brand for our realistic representation, we turned to the most iconic of them all – one that’s been boasting its authentic credentials as ‘the real thing’ since 1969.”


Iris: This is the Real Thing (Coca Cola)


Drum: Love Doesn’t Choose (Starbucks)