Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re well aware of the anticipation that surrounds June Pride Month, a 30-day period full of parades, festivals, marches and a general celebration of the LGBTQ community.
As a citizen, Pride Month is a fun, energy-filled month that provides endless excuses to dress up, let loose and celebrate in a judgement-free environment. As a brand, the month presents a unique opportunity to reach a savvy audience in a celebratory and non-serious way. If done well, it’s a win-win for brands and Pride attendees alike.
But with brands creating everything from entire clothing lines to long-form digital videos, it’s hard to know where to start. Our answer? Just start showing up. There are more than 100 Pride festivals in the month of June alone; pick a few and start having a presence. Then, take it a step further, and start tailoring your presence to that particular city, day and event. Though we might be slightly biased as an experiential shop, we firmly believe that 1:1 experiences are the best way to connect with your customers and even your employees.
Since 2015, we have partnered with TD Bank to manage their presence at Pride parades and festivals across the east coast. We’ve produced custom TD Bank parade floats featuring LGBT DJs and drag queens, created Pride flag art (made up of parade-goer painted hand prints), choreographed flash mobs along the parade route, witnessed marriage proposals on our festival footprint and handed out so much rainbow swag that an NYC resident commented, “It looked like the entire parade was sponsored by TD Bank.” Along the way, we learned a thing or two about how to navigate the space. Here are some quick tips:
- Customize. Showing up at a Pride festival is great first step. What’s better? Customizing your presence – everything from your logo to your festival footprint. For TD Bank, our marketing activations change from year to year and from city to city. Much like the cause itself, we make sure to avoid homogeneity and constantly provide new and exciting activations.
- Make it FUN! In addition to customer appreciation, Pride events can serve as an internal rallying cry for your brand. Let your employees know they are accepted, appreciated and celebrated. This is our main focus during the Pride Parade for TD Bank (unlike the Festival, which is aimed at customers). We want TD Bank employees to love participating in Pride events, knowing year after year we will create a fun, carefree environment suited for celebration.
- Visibility. Make sure the signage is impactful and the premiums are stocked. This might sound straightforward, but the last thing you want to do is to run out of swag halfway through the parade route. The premiums you share will allow your brand presence to live on after the conclusion of the event. When we know it’s going to be hot, we pass out rainbow popsicles or Frisbees, which serve as a nice hand fan. Lanyards and bead necklaces are always a hit, as are mini flags. If it’s going to rain, branded umbrellas or ponchos are key.
- Plan, plan, plan…then forget the plan. Countless details must be accounted for when planning a Pride event – everything from when and where to load the parade float the night before to having multiple Wi-Fi backup plans for your wireless Instagram printers. As a brand at Pride, you should plan thoroughly and relentlessly. But when it comes time for the event, have fun with it and embrace the celebration of the day!
We’re proud to have developed and followed these tips over the past three years with TD Bank. The events aren’t always perfect, but they are always unique, fun and well-received by clients and consumers alike. They’ve even won a few awards over the years including a Silver EX Award for Best Cause/Community Program at the 2017 Experiential Marketing Summit in Chicago and a Silver Corporate Image Award for our 2016 TD #ForeverProud Pride campaign at the Financial Communications Society’s 23rd Annual Portfolio Awards in NYC.
It’s our job (and passion) to get your brand involved in Pride, creating an authentic and fun experience that speaks to your brand’s identity, the city/festivals themselves and, most importantly, the LGBTQ community. It’s your job to call us.