As I look back on Pride 2023, I am completely and utterly amazed that Spirits advertising was completely absent from LGBTQ print media and largely absent from LGBTQ digital media. So much for caring about the LGBTQ Community all these years in return for “our” loyal support. In fact, I can’t point to anything new interesting in 2023 Pride ads in either print or digital. I’d like to say “same old, same old,” but without Spirits that does not ring true.
I can tell you that my loyalty to a particular spirits brand is going to have to be reviewed and examined because being taken for granted or token support is just not fun. Every LGBTQ person that has ever come out knows exactly how it feels to be excluded, or just distanced from. It’s an annoying feeling that I thought was long behind me, but now I’m experiencing it all over again because I have been working so long in LGBTQ media that it feels personal.
I’d love to call out some brands that really should know better, but since it’s nearly universal, I’ll leave that to the reader. The very few digital-only efforts I did see were from Absolut, Vizzy (Molson Coors), and Naked Wines. Absolut’s campaign is the best of the bunch which at least ran in LGBTQ-owned digital media, so that’s at least something. Vizzy and Naked Wines are just normal efforts selling their products. I’d not even mention them, except it should be noted that they did in fact run. All seemed small and tokenized efforts to me, but they showed up which is more than most.
If I could speak to these three directly, I’d say that to date I have never seen one consumer survey that shows any “loyalty” among LGBTQ consumers in only digital media. As a result, I wonder if these efforts will even be remembered by the time Pride is over or your done reading this article. I’d also point out that they would have gotten a higher return on investment if they had added LGBTQ print, as it’s almost always right at the point of purchase for these brands. There we know from years of surveys is that their ads would be noticed and remembered.
In case you are wondering, I’m a real fan of digital but not digital on its own. Digital campaigns need a grounding place, a place to be remembered. As another professional in the business once told me “Digital is a flicker and when working best can be an actual spark that reminds the consumer of all the other branding efforts” and I agree completely. We also know from all our efforts here in LGBTQ-media that print and digital work best together, versus digital on its own.
If there was any year for a spirit brand to stand up and step up in LGBTQ media, 2023 would have been that year. Everyone who reads LGBTQ-media would have noticed and for one brand in particular, it could have been 1981 all over again. In case you’re wondering… one brand bought two years of Back Covers in most of LGBTQ media and reaped 40 years of ROI.
We should appreciate and be grateful for what has been done in the past, but understand clearly that we’re in a different time and place and what’s going on right now is most important. Close to 95% of LGBTQ-media is free to the consumer, it’s support via advertising may be even more important now than when we started back in 1979!