We explored corporate social responsibility a couple of months ago with my post on how Americans are more likely to trust and stay loyal to companies that actively try to make a difference and also with fellow HealthComU founder Lisa’s post on Stella Artois’ campaign to raise awareness on the global water crisis. However, reaching the right consumer with the right message also means that messages about diversity and equality for the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community can also have widespread impact. Brands such as Burger King, Honey Maid, Hallmark, Starbucks, Tiffany & Co., Banana Republic, Allstate Insurance, and more have all been leading the way with LGBT-inclusive campaigns.
The total buying power of the adult U.S. LGBT population is projected at $830 billion. Marketing and advertising to LGBT consumers, through advertising in LGBT media, using LGBT messages in non-LGBT media, or sponsoring events in and for the LGBT community, constitute the most direct way businesses can communicate to LGBT consumers. Accordingly, the messages used and how those messages portray LGBT consumers demonstrate the depth of a business’ understanding of and serious commitment to the LGBT consumer.
As more attention is focused on equal rights for the LGBT community—specifically, marriage equality and diversity in the workplace—it’s influencing how consumers make decisions. This is especially true among the young; more than 45 percent of consumers younger than 34 years old say they’re more likely to do repeat business with an LGBT-friendly company. Of them, more than 54 percent also say they’d choose an equality-focused brand over a competitor.
Burger King is committed to diversity, and its values are rooted in equality and inclusion. Last year, to coincide with the San Francisco Pride events, Burger King introduced new pride advertising in support of the LGBT community. As part of Burger King’s “Be Your Way” campaign, a spin on its 40-year-old “Have It Your Way” brand positioning, the Proud Whopper was introduced.
The Whopper was actually the same flame-grilled sandwich customers had enjoyed since 1957. So, what made it different? Its rainbow-colored wrapper held a special message for Burger King customers: “We are all the same inside.” Reaction from its younger customers (the target audience was 18 to 24 year olds) was overwhelmingly positive, strong, and emotional. Not only did Burger King take a stand on an important social issue, but it also delivered messaging that resonated with its target audience. In fact, today’s young millennials (47 percent of consumers under 24 year olds) are more likely to support a brand after seeing an equality-themed ad (compared with 30 percent of all age groups combined).
Meanwhile, Honey Maid launched its This Is Wholesome campaign in 2014 with one simple notion in mind: Although the typical American family has changed over time, it remains wholesome at its core. In celebrating the diversity of the modern family, Honey Maid saw an opportunity to connect with its customers while reminding them of its long history and dedication to inclusiveness. Using age and gender targeting, Honey Maid was able to see that 97 percent of the ad’s video views came from 25 to 54 year olds. Of those views, women were responsible for 98 percent. Honey Maid’s messaging about the wholesomeness of all families resonated with its customers. The brand stood up for diversity and equality and was rewarded not only with positivity among its fans but also with their dollars. In the months following Honey Maid’s diversity campaign, the company says that June/July sales for its products increased seven percent.
Pride advertising is an opportunity for brands to speak their own truth and take a stand. And when they do, consumers appreciate it, tune in and watch, participate in the conversation, and most importantly—spend their money. Burger King and Honey Maid are just two of the brands making an impact by telling stories of diversity and equality in their advertising.