Opportunistic or Authentic – Brands’ Stance On LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender)

Call it a bravado… The recent digital campaign Bold is Beautiful for Myntra’s ethnic wear brand “Anouk” has certainly grabbed the attention of many either for good or bad depending on one’s belief about Marriage equality (LGBT) and same sex relationships. The campaign for sure is a clutter breaker in its segment and deserves a standing ovation for the stance it has taken on same sex relationship esp. in a country which has criminalized or re-criminalized LGBT rights to dignity, equality and freedom. Check this video here: Anouk The Visit

 

I do not know whether this will change the beliefs(biased) of how the society or faction of society view LGBT but the campaign is very progressive in a regressive society (Esp. towards LGBT community). The digital campaign cleverly marries the brand attributes of boldness by connecting it to personas (fictional) that made bold decisions in their life braving all odds. By giving an unexpected twist featuring lesbians, the brand has really made a daring attempt even though this is not the first campaign featuring lesbian couples (Fast Track has already come out with an edgy and provocative ad featuring lesbian couples in 2013) in line with its brand ideal. Move on

 

Now the business (meaty) part…..

 

How big is the size of LGBT market in India? Is there a way to figure out given the context we are placed today on legalizing LGBT and beliefs we uphold about LGBT?

 

According to a report Follow the Money: The growing impact of LGBT consumers, there are roughly 9 million to 13.5 million LGBT consumers (Self-identified) in the United States with a purchasing power of $800 to $850 billion. Many firms are already cashing in on the trend by voicing out their support for LGBT rights.

 

Are they doing it because they firmly believe in the ideals of Marriage Equality, diversity and Same Sex relationship or they sense a business opportunity to ride on or a blend of both? I am not sure….

For instance, will Myntra hire people (If there is a skill fit and a requirement) belonging to LGBT community? Will their workplace include such people? How co-workers would perceive that move? What will be their likely reaction to that? I do not know yet….

Will the stand translate in to action?…..

But one thing is pretty evident that brands can act as a catalyst for social change by creating awareness and education on societal issues marring human progress.

Data from Google and You Tube shows that messages about equality and diversity in the context of LGBT community has widespread impact.

For instance, Honey Maid launched a campaign “This is Wholesome” This is Wholesome in celebration of diversity of Modern family. The brand saw an opportunity based on a key insight that while American families have changed over time, it remains wholesome at its core. Acting on that key insight, the brand went on to tie the notion of Wholesome in the context of family to its brand’s core brilliantly. The video has already garnered over 8 million views in You Tube and 97 per cent of the ad views came from an age group between 25-54 years. Not that the campaign went without backlash. Check this video here: Love

Instead of changing their stand due to some negative feedback, the company turned a crisis in to an opportunity by creating a brilliant video in response to the negative feedback.

The response was equally overwhelming as the video touched the hearts of many across varied age group. The company also reported an increase in sales for its products following the campaign.

 

Data points out that irrespective of the category, many brands in the US jumped in to the LGBT bandwagon either to capitalize on the business opportunity or to communicate its  stand on LGBT. Brands that love LGBT the most

Do campaigns about equality, diversity, inclusiveness works? If so, under what condition and context ? For which category it works? What would be the business and societal impact of such campaigns?  What are the real dangers of such campaigns for brands operating in a society which is regressive in its mindset towards LGBT community?

Will Myntra’s campaign set the trend for others to follow? Would brands (Say a Jewelry brand or realty brand or a bank promotes exclusive products targeting LGBT community) and risk their core customers?

Some brands are playing it safe by launching campaigns only in channels like You Tube. The upside of this approach is that it helps companies to gauge customer’s response and emotions real time and act accordingly.

Some brands are already breaking the stereotypes we have about re-marriage (Tanishq wedding ad Tanishq: The Wedding ), beauty (Dove’s Real Beauty campaign Dove Real Beauty Sketch), Cancer survivors (Dabur Vatika’s Brave and Beautiful campaign Brave and Beautiful)

But the question remains, will such campaigns withstand the odds? Will it bring in a positive change in our mindset? Will it remove our misconceptions and bias against a particular community or an issue? Do we espouse brands that stands for such cause?

I see a glimmer or hope or you can say light at the end of the tunnel but i do not know whether it is a wishful thinking

 

Sathya Narayanan

CEO of BrandValueZ, a brand consulting firm & Course facilitator at PSG Institute of Management. My Role: Inspire young minds & help clients solve Key Branding and Digital Marketing challenges, USP: Unique Blend of Creativity and Logic; Purpose Led, People Centric and Process Driven Approach to solving branding and Digital Marketing Challenges.

Comments