In light of Pride weekend — three brands doing it right.

2018’s annual London Pride Parade is set to take place in Trafalgar Square. This event constitutes the culmination of a month of celebrations that hold an increasingly important place in the calendars of agencies and clients alike. This year, the ubiquitous “Pride brief” follows on from a trend of socially conscious work that swept awards season, in a climate of high expectations around brands’ social responsibility.

With the pressure on to create impactful campaigns that honour the LGBTQ+ community, recent years have seen some serious misfires. Last year, Wrigley’s-owned Skittles faced a major backlash after they ditched their signature rainbow in favour of an all-white aesthetic.

They ran their temporarily white sweets and packaging alongside the slogan “During Pride, only one rainbow matters. So we’ve given up ours to show support.” Unfortunately, they failed to recognise the way this might be interpreted.

It was a lesson in intersectionality and inclusivity for social messaging.

However, it’s more than possible for brands to occupy a meaningful place in the important conversations happening in our culture. Profiting from doing good doesn’t have to be a problem, as long as your campaign truly engages with the issues it’s weighing in on, and you put your money where your mouth is in terms of behaviour, not just messaging.

Here’s three brands who have engaged with causes on a meaningful level, making true contributions to the conversation around Pride and beyond.

  1. Paddy Power

This year, Paddy Power are running an inspired Pride campaign in parallel with the FIFA World Cup, “promising to make accidental allies of the World Cup home nation”. Every time Russia score, the company are donating £10k to LGBTQ+ charities. Demonstrating a true commitment to impactful action against homophobia in sport, Paddy Power have chosen charities that challenge prejudice, support LGBTQ+ footballers and create safe spaces on and off the field.

They’ve also enlisted a team of prominent LGBTQ+ figures from Caitlyn Jenner to Christopher Biggens to help spread the word. It’s cheeky, irreverent and making real contributions to the community.

2. Vodafone

The telecoms company recently commissioned wide-reaching research into LGBTQ people in the workplace, uncovering staggering statistics around sexuality and representation. Over half of LGBTQ+ workers hide their sexuality in the workplace and experience twice as much discrimination. In response, Vodafone have launched the “LGBT+ and Friends Connect” initiative, aimed at recruiting, supporting and training members of the community.

Vodafone job adverts and career channels will now prioritise inclusive messaging, a global ‘buddying’ programme for LGBTQ graduates will diversify their workforce, and a refreshed Code of Conduct highlighting LGBTQ is being rolled out.

“I am saddened that so many young LGBT+ people feel they still have to hide their states in the workplace,” said Vittorio Colao, chief executive of Vodafone Group. “We are committed to creating a culture at Vodafone that embraces everyone for who they are”.

3. Levi’s

Every year, Levi’s create a special collection in celebration of Pride. This year, they collaborated with LGBTQ+ figures and activists to create customisable garments and accessories, highlighting a theme of individuality and self-expression. In order to “increase visibility, get more people involved in the push for equality and give back”, they formed a “Pride 2018 Cast” and invited them to share their stories and thoughts about the collection on the Levi’s site.

It’s a smart campaign with an authentic feel, largely because of its simplicity: the activists are afforded centre stage, while the brand steps back and facilitates their self-expression. It also helps that Levi’s have a history of real-life positive contributions to social justice issues; they partnered with the Human Rights Campaign in opposition to the recent HB2 injunction discriminating against transgender Americans, were a pioneer of domestic partner benefits for employees and hold a perfect score on the HRC’s corporate equality index.

Looking at incredible campaigns like these should inspire brands to dive into the world of socially conscious marketing. The lessons we can learn from less successful campaigns aren’t to avoid weighing in on these discussions, but to make sure they’re being tackled in the right way.