Celebrating LGBTQ History Month: Our favourite LGBTQ Campaigns

Hero image

The month of February marks an annual celebration, LGBT History Month, looking at the lives and histories of LGBTQ people around the world. Celebrating the lives and achievements of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, with years theme being Religion, Belief and Philosophy. Reported by the Office of National Statistics in 2016 in the UK, just over 1 million (2.0%) of the UK population aged 16 and over identified themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB).

In recent years we have seen some progress in the portrayal of sexual and gender identity in popular culture. Speaking to Marketing Week, Laura Ward, deputy head of marketing at Channel 4 confirmed “it is not a risk to reflect diversity in marketing, it’s a risk not to.” The increase in representation of the LGBTQ community within marketing campaign has many advantages including: increasing visibility, dialogue and understanding of the LGBTQ community, and, of course, from an organisational standpoint, the signal that this particular company represents inclusivity and diversity.

6 of our favourite LGBTQ positive change marketing campaigns

At Sail Creative we are passionate about social causes and community engagement. We have carried out several projects that raise LGBTQ issues and celebrate LGBTQ lives within the UK. We decided to take a look five of our favourite marketing campaigns that are either directly aimed at raising LGBT awareness or promote diversity by representing the LGBT community within the campaign.

1. Stonewall – Come Out For LGBT

Stonewall’s mission is to let all lesbian, gay, bi and trans people, here and abroad, know they’re not alone and to ensure that everyone feels free to be who they are, wherever they are. (Source).

On Stonewall’s website, the Come Out For LGBT campaign starts by encouraging people to sign a pledge to say that they support the fight for LGBT equality, no matter how they do it. Stonewall inspires us to take action by offering several ways in which it can be done: from becoming an ally to a LGBT person, purchasing official merchandise to show your support, making a donation, making an impact at work or in education.

In our opinion, it’s the variety of ways in which people can take action that makes this campaign so effective. It successfully manages to touch on age, gender, background, location – so no matter who you are or where you come from, the message is clear that you too can ally yourself with the LGBTQ community.


2. Android’s “Android: And Proud”

“Be together. Not the same.”

This is the message of Android’s recent video featuring cartoon versions of well-known LGBT people and their allies from the entertainment and sporting industries, such as Sir Ian McKellan, Sam Smith and Jessie J. Backed to an upbeat pop song, the cartoon figures danced in a parade along with everyday people.

Users were encouraged to submit their own Android cartoon version of themselves and several of these were chosen to be featured on Pride parade floats around the world. We find this interactive element a particularly effective part of this campaign and it was met with good feedback from audience and critics at the time it was launched.




3. Lloyds Bank’s “For Your Next Step”

The campaign launched on the 11th March 2016 and ran on TV, cinema, digital, print, outdoor and social media. It features various real-life scenarios of people taking their ‘next step’ in life, frozen in a snapshot as Lloyd Bank’s iconic black horse gallops through the scene.

These examples include: a father dropping his daughter off at school and a proposal by a same-sex couple in a crowded street. This same couple are shown again at the end celebrating their engagement with a hug. Alongside the TV ad, Lloyds chose to feature the same-sex couple in their printed ads with the words: “He said yes.”

Lloyds Banking Group has a strong history of supporting LGBT rights. Quoted on Pink News Lloyds marketing director, Catherine Kehoe, explained: “We’ve adopted a contemporary and distinctive approach, focusing on the diverse and sometimes challenging moments in the lives of our customers today.”

We support this campaign because, whilst in recent years, many businesses have produced pro-LGBT ad campaigns, such ads are not always put into mainstream print or TV circulation, often resorting to attracting attention online. We value Lloyds commitment to  representing the diversity of their customer base.


4. Smirnoff – ‘We’re Open’ campaign

Vodka brand, Smirnoff, has long aligned itself with LGBT themed issues through its ‘We Are Open’ campaign.

Bringing together leading trans and gender-nonconforming artists and performers, together with LGBT Foundation, the campaign aims to spark conversation, create positive change in Britain’s nightlife culture and lead a movement to make it a more open-minded and socially inclusive space.

Quoted by Marketing Week, Smirnoff’s head of Europe, Sam Salameh, explains that “A phrase we often use is that it’s not just storytelling, but story doing […] “It’s very easy to tell a compelling story and provide lip service to extremely important matters. But if you don’t back that up with some significant action, it becomes a little meaningless.”

Smirnoff are partnering with the LGBT Foundation to develop training into raising awareness of non-binary issues amongst bartenders and nightclub staff, working with Manchester’s Village Angel’s initiative and teaming up with LADBible to increase education amongst men aged 18-35.

5. Skittles

In 2016, candy giant Skittles by the Mars/Wrigley company shed its colours in honor of LGBT celebrations during London Pride.

“So this is kind of awkward, but we’re just gonna go ahead and address the rainbow-colored elephant in the room,” reads a letter addressed to “London Pride” from the famously brightly coloured Skittles. “You have the rainbow … we have the rainbow … and usually that’s just hunky-dory. But this Pride, only one rainbow deserves to be the centre of attention—yours. And we’re not going to be the ones to steal your rainbow thunder, no siree.”

The day after the letter was launched, representatives from Skittles and its advertising agency adam&eveDDB handed out a limited supply of Skittles in packages that were devoid of its rainbow colours. Inside the bags were white Skittles with black lettering, which were also handed out from a float as part of the parade for London Pride. This activity was supported by a video that was shared online.

Some critics were sceptical about the campaign, saying that Skittles were merely using London Pride as purely a marketing tactic, but others applauded the company’s message. Stripping its well-known bright colours certainly created an eye-catching and therefore thought provoking campaign.


6. Transport For London – Trafalgar Square

Campaigns don’t always have to be expensive to be effective. One of our other favourites is a simple campaign with a highly impactful idea featuring the traffic light crossing in Trafalgar Square, London. We saw this when visiting last year.

The campaign was created by Transport For London in June 2016 to show solidarity following the biggest mass shooting in USA history at a gay club in Orlando earlier in the year.

There were a range of new symbols developed in partnership with Transport for London to coincide with the London Pride event, including the transgender or transsexual symbol.

Most eye catching of all is the ubiquitous green man on the traffic light, who has been joined by a same-sex partner. They are holding hands and the space between them is in the shape of a heart.

Quoted in The Independent, Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “These new signals show that we stand shoulder to shoulder with [the LGBTQ community], and display the tolerance and celebration of difference in our city.”

The new symbols were featured on 50 traffic lights around the Trafalgar Square area.


Celebrating LGBTQ Month in February 2018

Sail Creative have been invited to – and invited to share details of – an event happening to mark LGBTQ Month this February called the Positive Allies Charter Mark.

The Positive Allies Charter Mark is a brand new charter mark to show that your organisation is HIV friendly. It is a free, powerful, easy to follow process to help everyone in an organisation focus on the quality of staff training, recruitment and protections they offer to people living with HIV. It helps to demonstrate your organisations commitment to ensuring that people living with HIV, as either staff or volunteers, are safe and that key staff undertake training, review policies and consider organisational practices and resources.

“Whilst the Equalities Act (2010) added further protections to those living with HIV, many employers are unaware that HIV is included within this legislation.”

By displaying the Positive Allies Charter Mark, you will send a clear message to potential employees and volunteers, as well as people living with HIV, that they are included, valued, supported, and will be treated fairly. You will also make it clear to other organisations and your service users, customers or clients that equality and diversity is at the heart of your organisation as you will reassure people that your organisation is a safe and supportive place.

You can watch Drew Dalton explain more about Positive Allies, and how you can get involved with it, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1VJc4TYxnA

The national launch of Positive Allies will be held on Friday 23rd February from 6:30-8:30pm at the University of Sunderland in London (Canary Wharf).

Come to the launch night and find out more. Book a FREE ticket here.

If you cannot attend the launch night, you can find out everything that you need to get your organisation registered with Positive Allies here: www.sunderland.ac.uk/positiveallies or contact us at: positiveallies@sunderland.ac.uk and follow us on Twitter: @PositiveAllies


Sail Creative’s founder, Mandy, recently attended a screening of the film, Queerama!, at Tyneside Cinema, which showcased a century of gay rights and desires on film. Queerama! is a film created from the treasure trove of BFI archive. The story traverses a century of gay experiences, encompassing persecution and prosecution, injustice, love and desire, identity, secrets, forbidden encounters, sexual liberation and pride.

The soundtrack weaves the lyrics and music of John Grant and Hercules & Love Affair with the images and guides us intimately into the relationships, desires, fears and expressions of gay men and women in the 20th century-  a century of incredible change.

The film is being screened across the globe until April 2018. For more information please visit Queerama! website.

Breaking the code

We also had the delight of going to see Newcastles People’s Theatre production of Breaking the Code, a gripping show about Alan Turing.

At the height of the Second World War, brilliant young mathematician Alan Turing was a key figure in breaking the Enigma code used by the Nazis. In the aftermath of victory, Turing returned to academic life but his dreams were left unfulfilled as his private sexual life fell afoul of social attitudes in 1950s Britain.

The performances were incredible, we were gripped throughout the 2 hour+ show! A heartwarming, emotional journey of Alan Turing’s personal life, and the challenges he had to face.

Do you promote inclusivity and diversity?

How do you recognise diversity within our society and your customer base? How do you ensure that your marketing is as inclusive as it can be? We’d love to hear of how your organisation raises awareness of social issues or if there are any particular campaigns that you feel really hit the spot that we’ve not included above.

Sail Creative are committed to working with organisations that match our passion for purpose and social change. To be kept up to date with the latest projects we are working on, subscribe to our newsletter and we’ll share more with you.

Receive updates