Embedding the rainbow: genuine LGBTQ inclusivity in advertising content

There’s a sense of pride in being an independent, boutique creative agency. Even if it does mean we’re often playing the underdog to much larger agencies in pitches. Something we’re just as proud of is the inclusivity and diversity of our agency, and the work we produce for our clients. By “inclusivity” we mean content that embeds LGBTQ+ stories into the very fabric of our content in a way that feels genuine, positive and real.

But does our underdog status and commitment to inclusivity limit us and the content we produce? We don’t think so, we think it creates amazing opportunities for us to work on unique projects and gives us a profile that stands out. Because the fact is that research shows LGBTQ+ inclusivity isn’t just being socially responsible, it also makes good business sense.

According to Harvard Business Review, 45% of consumers under the age of 34 say they are more likely to do repeat business with an LGBTQ+ friendly brand.

According to research from PrideAM/Simpson Carpenter 40% of the general population feel that marketing doesn’t portray gender identities properly .

Distillery Founder and MD Steve Wheen volunteered to run the recent Pride Brand Makeover Awards with PrideAM, where brands and agencies are challenged to make over their campaigns with greater inclusivity. 


The awards provide a safe space for brands to experiment, offering constructive feedback from a panel including Stephen Woodford from the Advertising Association, Rachel Reese from Global Butterflies and Nayhem Chowdhury from YouTube.

The awards are committed to recognising content that promotes positive social change and  depicts the LGBTQ+ community in a realistic way. During Pride, it’s particularly important to promote these values, especially as LGBTQ+ acceptance remains an ongoing issue.

PrideAM President Mark Runacas has pointed out that “there is often a perception among open minded people that LGBT+ acceptance is no longer a problem, but that is very much not the case.” 

As Steve says, “it’s easy to live in a London bubble”, and assume that sufficient strides have been made towards the acceptance of LGBTQ+ communities in wider society. However, issues of visibility and acceptance remain a fact in the lives of so many LGBTQ+ people.  

Genuine representation of the LGBTQ+ community in advertising content can help with these issues, by increasing visibility and promoting more inclusivity. A lack of LGBTQ+ representation in media can often lead to individuals feeling ignored and marginalised. To quote Mark Runacas again, “If you can’t see it, you can’t be it.” 
Enjoy some highlights of the Pride Brand Makeover awards and hear from members of the panel:

The five finalists of the Pride Brand Makeover awards were awarded a pool of around half a million pounds from Gay Times and YouTube with which to develop and promote their work. 

YouTube provides the opportunity to assess the business impact of advertising through hard data, and distillery will be working closely with YouTube to monitor the performance of the finalists’ content. 

Here are three tips when starting to think about making more diverse content:

1. Be in it for the long haul. Diversity is not something you “do”.
2. Talk to the community - do some research and involve the LGBT+ community.
3. Get the tone right - LGBTQ+ people are normal people who lead normal lives, don’t rely on sexuality being the key message. 

Click here to learn more about PrideAM and read our Outvertising whitepaper.

If you’d like to talk more about diversity and content, please get in touch.