If someone asked for a list of the top news stories of 2023, the missteps of Target and Bud Light would certainly be included. Both companies dominated headlines with their responses to anti-LGBTQ+ advertising backlash earlier this year.
After spending decades advertising to the LGBTQ+ community, Bud Light’s parent company, Anheuser-Busch, caved into anti-LGBTQ pressure and apologized for their partnership with Broadway actress and influencer, Dylan Mulvaney.
Target, who has also created LGBTQ+-inclusive ads and products for years, moved or removed Pride displays in the face of anti-LGBTQ harassment and threats.
Each company is in the process of mending its relationship with LGBTQ+ consumers and allies, but the damage is done. According to the ANA, brands who caved to anti-LGBTQ pressure lost 2 customers for 1 customer they gained. This directly led to sinking sales and a loss of respect for the brand among LGBTQ+ consumers.
Now, if you only paid attention to mainstream media, it would SEEM like it has been a terrible year for LGBTQ-inclusive advertising. But in reality, the vast majority of brands stood firm in their support of the LGBTQ+ community by pushing forward with their pride and year-round LGBTQ ads.
While we can’t celebrate all the impressive brand advertisers who did the right thing, here are 5 brands we’re thankful for.
Nike also worked with Dylan Mulvaney as a brand ambassador this year. The global athletic footwear and apparel company received similar backlash to Bud Light this spring for included the popular trans influencer. Instead of caving to pressure, Nike responded by backing Mulvaney and encouraging critics to “be kind, be inclusive” on Instagram.
Nissan continued their partnership with Q.Digital this past year by sponsoring our Pride50 program and event in June and added to Queerty’s Driven series with celebrity make-up artist Laurel Charleston in September.
In the midst of the Target pride display backlash, Walmart responded by announcing no changes to the pride merchandise, moving forward with their “Pride & Joy” collection.
The North Face
For the second straight year, The North Face teamed up with Pattie Gonia for their “Summer of Pride” national event series. The partnership drew criticism and calls to boycott the brand.
The North Face defended its support of the LGBTQ community and released the following statement:
“The North Face has always believed the outdoors should be a welcoming, equitable, and safe place for all,” the company said in a statement. “We are honored and grateful to support partners like Pattie Gonia who help make this vision a reality.”
“Creating community and belonging in the outdoors is a core part of our values and is needed now more than ever. We stand with those who support our vision for a more inclusive outdoor industry.”
For the second year in a row, Hilton has partnered with Q.Digital for our Pride50 program and event. As well as our annual Best of GayCities awards, demonstrating their unwavering support of the LGBTQ+ community and LGBTQ-inclusive ads.
Gratitude fuels progress
No list is exhaustive, and no company or brand has a perfect track record – some of these companies may have fallen short on other issues. But In a year with 500+ anti-LGBTQ legislation introduced nationwide, visibility and representation in advertising is paramount for our community. With an estimated $4.7 trillion in annual global spending power, there is no business longevity without maintaining the trust and support of LGBTQ+ consumers.
In this season of thanks, we’re deeply appreciative of the more than 75 companies who took meaningful action by signing HRC’s “Count Us In” pledge, sending a powerful message to extremist lawmakers advancing anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, that equality for all is not negotiable.
To our trailblazing 2023 partners, thank you for fostering genuine connections with the LGBTQ+ community. As we step into 2024 and beyond, we eagerly welcome new collaborations to extend our impact. Partner with us to build a future where every brand resonates authentically.
Dive into the world of Q.Digital and how we work with brands to authentically engage our community here.
Download our media kit here to learn more about opportunities to partner with Q.Digital to create LGBTQ-inclusive ads and achieve your marketing objectives.
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Q.Digital ranks #1 in Comscore for all LGBTQ+ digital media.