Arisha Saroop, Business Unit Manager at The MediaShop Durban, says that brands should create more engaging and relevant content, and challenges marketers to be brave, inclusive and representative.

A particular example of how a brand proudly stood up for representation made me sit up and reaffirm some brand affinities held close to my chest. Coca Cola Brazil recently took the homophobic idiom ‘Essa Coca e Fanta’ which literally translates to ‘That Coke is a Fanta’, and turned it into an empowering campaign, filling cans of Coke with Fanta Orange. It was relevant, engaging, inclusive and purely organic – and it delivered one billion media impressions with zero media spend, turning one hurtful slur into a slogan of Pride.

Brave, right? With so many conservative groups lobbying against the LGBTQ community, only a big brand can be this brave; big enough to not injure their market share or upset their loyal conservatives, right?

Well no, not really. With Gay Pride month just passed, it seems that more and more brands, big and small, are jumping onto the Rainbow bandwagon to render support and connect with those that back the crusade. They’re doing so by creating themed campaigns and merchandise and donating proceeds from sales to LGBTQ associations. Global examples of brands such as Magnum, Nike, DKNY, Uber and Tiffany & Co demonstrate that brands from different genres can easily adapt to changing environments.

Even social media platforms are becoming more inclusive. Instagram has added new rings for users that use a Pride hashtag in their stories; Facebook has Pride-themed rainbow frames and filters and Snapchat tasked creators to design Pride-themed landmarks like the Flatiron building in New York.

Brands are seeing the impact of embracing this revolution as they grow loyalty and increase the return of investment by reaching out to one of the fasting growing markets that have a global buying power of almost $1 Trillion.

In October 2017, an LGBTQ Ad Format Effectiveness study was released completed in conjunction with Nielsen and a social media company that surveyed 800 LGBTQ participants. The study basically reconnoitred the efficacy of themed advertising to this market by comparing the effectiveness of inclusive marketing campaigns vs. generic advertising from the same brands.

Granted, this study was executed off a small sample, but the learnings are massive. Two crucial fundamentals are evident as tweeted by the co-founder and president of – ‘Buyer intent was 40% higher and willingness to recommend was 66% higher.’

Globally, we are seeing a change in advertising, and back home brands are slowly gearing themselves up for the LGBTQ market. Examples include the Unheard Voices radio and digital campaign (2018), Chicken Licken’s ‘Dad I am …’ (2019) and the very extra Harold courtesy of Netflorist.

Unfortunately fear, ignorance and stigma are still the main contributors to brands not being fully inclusive, but in a country as diverse as ours, representation of our rainbow nation should come easy…right?

Here’s a brand challenge for our marketers: be brave, be inclusive and be representative – fortune favours it.