June has come and gone, and so has Pride Month–the annual month-long celebration of LGBTQ+ representation and the anniversary of the historic Stonewall Uprising in New York City. This year we saw more brands than ever demonstrate their support of the LGBTQ+ community in the form of pride collections, creative campaigns, and parades.
These days, showing support for any social cause is popular. But in 2019 it’s not enough to say that you care, you’ve got to prove it. It’s easy to post rainbows all over social media channels, or sell limited-edition Pride-branded swag, but what else are you doing to benefit the community? How is your brand actively trying to make a difference year round?
Over the course of the month, we saw several brands who supported the LGBTQ+ community beyond the use of fancy designs and catchy hashtags. Here are our three favorite brands making a difference.
In partnership with McCann New York and PFLAG, an organization that reunites families and allies with people who identify as LGBTQ+, Verizon created a short film that showcases the hard conversations and tensions between family members surrounding coming out.
Titled, “Love Calls Back,” the film depicts real parents, brothers, and sisters reconnecting through a phone call facilitated by Verizon. The conversations are raw, emotional, and very real.
“When you first called me, I should have told you how much I loved you then,” says a mother to her lesbian daughter. “I never wanted you to feel like I’m not there for you,” says one brother to another.
The screen fades to white as two lines of text read, “It’s never too late for love to call back. Verizon and PFLAG are committed to connecting and reconnecting families.”
In addition to the film, Verizon has taken big steps towards true allyship with the LGBTQ+ community. For starters, the company vowed to make a monetary donation to PFLAG, as it did last year when it donated $250,000. The company was also the title sponsor of this year’s LA Pride, and hosted the premiere of its documentary 5B, which tells the inspirational stories of everyday heroes who took extraordinary action to care for the patients of the first HIV/AIDS ward unit in the United States at San Francisco General Hospital. Verizon’s LGBTQ employee resource group, Globe, will continue to facilitate volunteer opportunities through chapters as opportunities arise throughout the year.
This year’s Pride was a busy one for Lyft. The ride-sharing app launched a new feature as part of its #TwoIsTooFew campaign to highlight the representation of non-binary, genderqueer and genderfluid identities. Now, passengers and drivers alike can select their preferred pronounces as, “She/Her/Hers,” “He/Him/His,” “They/Them/Theirs,” “Pronoun isn’t listed,” or “Prefer not to say.”
Lyft also partnered with the National Center for Transgender Equality to provide driver assistance with changing the name and gender designation on a driver’s license and provided major support to StoryCorps’ Stonewall OutLoud campaign.
These recent actions are not the only show of support Lyft has taken towards the LGBTQ+ community. Over the years, the company has also facilitated over $5 million in donations between passengers and organizations such as the ACLU and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) through its “Round Up & Donate” feature.
Smirnoff Vodka has been working on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community for decades, and this year enlisted a group of Pride Ambassadors (including Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness, superstar Alyssa Edwards, and Orange Is The New Black actress Laverne Cox) to support its multi-channel campaign, “Welcome Home.”
“Welcome Home” was created on the premise of bringing a sense of “homecoming” to June’s Pride celebrations–cultivating a way in which members of the community can feel safe, secure, and appreciated. The campaign included a digital video series, an immersive pop-up, two limited edition Smirnoff No. 21 Pride bottles (which includes the re-release of its iconic “Love Wins” bottles), a float in the NYC Pride March and a generous ongoing donation to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), estimated to raise over $1.5 million by 2021.
As a result of their extensive commitment to the equal rights of LGBTQ+ peoples, Smirnoff and its parent company DIAGEO have received a perfect 100% score on the HRC Corporate Equality Index (CEI) for workplace equity, and in February 2018 they were honored with the HRC Corporate Equality Award.
Audiences know the difference between a genuine sign of support and an empty gesture. Pride month is a celebration of the LGBTQ+ community, and the sooner brands recognize that they are in a position to raise awareness and make a difference, the better. If you really care about Pride, take action every day of the year.