Study reveals key issues in pride marketing

UpHouse surveyed 500 2SLGBTQ+ respondents, highlighting issues like stereotypes, lack of diversity, and tokenism

Study reveals key issues in pride marketing

UpHouse, a marketing and public relations agency, conducted a study with 500 2SLGBTQ+ respondents across North America.

Participants shared their perspectives on Pride marketing, discussing its authenticity, effectiveness, representation, and relevance. About 60 percent found Pride marketing relevant, while 30 percent of Canadian respondents deemed it very effective. 

The study identified three main negative aspects of Pride marketing: an overemphasis on caricatures and stereotypes, a lack of diverse representation, and token representation of 2SLGBTQ+ individuals. These findings suggest guidelines for brands to avoid “rainbow washing.”

The data suggests that marketers need to reflect on their practices and make internal changes to guide their brand storytelling. 

“If you're being called out for rainbow washing, there's a good chance it's because you are,” said Alex Varricchio, co-owner of UpHouse.

“Queer communities want you to create an intentionally inclusive environment starting from within. At Pride, focus on sharing stories of positive actions you're taking as an organization, and demonstrate real, tangible efforts. When you listen and meet community expectations, you'll build trust with your customers.” 

Survey respondents criticized brands for overemphasizing stereotypes and caricatures of the 2SLGBTQ+ community.

However, they appreciated thoughtful and creative marketing campaigns during Pride months from companies like Skittles, Absolut Vodka, and Nike, which blended advertisement with genuine advocacy and inclusion efforts. 

“We expect and want brands to be allies to the community, which means being supportive outside of Pride Month, truly listening to our needs, and making systemic changes that reflect that support,” said Calvin Campos, founder of Calvin Campos Media, who spoke at a recent UpHouse webinar.

“Allyship is often uncomfortable because you align yourself with a group not comfortable in society. Neglecting support out of fear of backlash damages the trust of the 2SLGBTQ+ community,” he said.

“The only way for change and liberation is to continue having uncomfortable conversations. Show up. Apologize when you make a mistake. Take accountability. Change your actions. Allyship is not a destination but an ongoing practice and commitment to showing up better every time you learn something new. This research is invaluable to brands and the ongoing practice towards supporting the 2SLGBTQ+ community.” 

UpHouse, based in Canada with teams in Winnipeg, Los Angeles, Toronto, and Vancouver, collaborated with Mat Meir Consulting, a Toronto-based research company, to design this research.