Every year when thinking of Pride, I try and look at what happened during the previous Pride and review the hits and misses. As we near Pride season, let’s look back at 2022.

What I noticed most was that none of the major Spirits advertisers did much of anything in LGBTQ-specific media during Pride of 2022. I was surprised as this literally was the first category to spearhead LGBTQ-targeted efforts. Up until Covid, advertisers in this category would ebb and flow over the years but remain relatively strong. Everyone understands there are things out of our control in business, so being absent during Covid is understandable – but why the major Spirit companies remained absent is surprising. This is especially confusing because most of these companies are well-versed enough to know it takes a regular presence in the market to yield results. Many of these same companies still have good LGBTQ efforts internally and digitally but virtually no physical presence in a once very crowded category. If I were advising any of the big-name alcohol brands that have invested in the market – for 2022 I would have said “go big and broad in LGBTQ media” and you will really stand out. If anyone did that it would’ve been their year, and they certainly would’ve gotten the biggest bang for their buck while being virtually alone in the market for the first time in a long time. Even this year, the advice still applies.

One nice surprise was a travel campaign from the largest travel bureau in the US, NYC & Co. (New York Tourism). They showed up as they almost always do digitally, but for the first time in a long time with a big print campaign in LGBTQ media as well. It was a surprise because the travel industry has been hit so hard due to Covid, but it shows they understand the market better than anticipated. I always say actions speak louder than words, and I was very pleased with the physical presence from a long-time marketer to our community. NYC & Co. told me they understand the need to show their support and commitment to the LGBTQ community within LGBTQ-owned and operated media – the smile that gave me lasted a long time. 

Additionally, there is always something that catches my interest in mainstream media during Pride and 2022 was no exception. I saw a two-page full color Amazon Prime Video ad in the June 26th issue of the New York Times Sunday paper. It was a great ad featuring much of the LGBTQ-oriented content Prime Video has to offer. As a Prime subscriber myself, I appreciated the reminder of what’s available. Still, I always marvel at the cost of such mainstream placements for niche consumers of any kind, and it always makes me think of what they could’ve gotten with the same investment where it would’ve mattered most.

According to Google searches, the price of such an ad in the New York Times is about $150K per page or $300K total. Perhaps they got it at half that cost and paid only $150K or thereabouts as companies like Amazon generally run schedules and place enough ads to qualify for the best deals so that seems about the range from what I know planning media after all these years. $150K is a decent sized campaign in LGBTQ media. I would say very typical for good outreach during Pride or at any time – it is not comprehensive or evergreen of course but decent enough to get noticed far and wide within the LGBTQ community.

TV/Streaming campaigns always get my interest as they have had a long habit of either believing LGBTQ media will cover their (non-advertiser) press releases or are of the mindset that if they make LGBTQ programming then the LGBTQ community and their allies will show up and watch. I often joke in the office that “gaydar” only works for sensing other LGBTQ people and not LGBTQ content and I can rattle off a string of LGBTQ Emmy Award-winning programs that spent a fortune advertising in titles like Vanity Fair, The New York Times, People Magazine or other mainstream advertising channels only to be cancelled for ratings like HBO’s “Looking” or the dismal ratings of “We Shall Rise” on ABC. These are just a few examples of great programs that never advertised directly to their core audience and never had a success in ratings. Another reason this is a real miss is that by the time the ad appeared Pride month (June) was coming to a close. It’s like catching that Christmas program the last week of December – you’re still into it but not enough to hold your interest, so you may wait another year to watch it.

Maybe those marketers remember back when 70% or more Americans watched network television and LGBTQ-programming was rare and word of mouth made a big difference. Today the television market is fractured and siloed which makes advertising to core audiences so much more important than before the onset of cable and streaming services.

That same Amazon Prime ad in LGBTQ-owned media not only would’ve gotten the word out, but it also would’ve helped the community by supporting “our” media which brings “our” community together. Oh well, maybe this year they might expand or even see this post and think about it with more depth. I know LGBTQ media would love their support and if they ran an ad within the first week of June it might just catch the LGBTQ Pride Wave all month long. Lastly, LGBTQ owned and operated media is a closed environment and very likely to be seen only by those most interested, the super influencers of the LGBTQ market.

If you have not made your Pride 2023 marketing plans yet, NOW is the time to get started and the best place to start is to support the actual community you want to support your business.

About the Author

Todd Evans is President and CEO of Rivendell Media-America’s leading LGBTQ media placement firm- a unique media company that was founded in 1979 and represents 95% of all LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS media in the United States and Canada. Rivendell Media serves as the national advertising representative for over 200 gay, lesbian and HIV/AIDS newspapers, magazines and entertainment guides their websites and standalone digital properties. After working for the company and then taking over in 1994, he has worked on almost every major LGBT media campaign as well as every DTC campaign in the HIV/AIDS market since the FDA allowed them. That experience along with his knowledge of the media provide unique qualifications on what has worked and what is necessary to reach and speak to these audiences. Todd Evans is also a silent partner of Q Syndicate, the leading content provider for gay media and is also publisher of Press Pass Q, the industry newsletter for the gay and lesbian press professional. Todd Evans graduated from Villanova University with a bachelor in Political Science. He currently resides in Mountainside, New Jersey. He can be reached at todd@rivendellmedia.com or 908-232-2021 ext 210.

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