Many LGBTQ+ consumers feel that brands pander to them. They are wary of hypocritical brand support or disingenuous brands.
We counsel our clients to avoid “rainbow washing” such as:
- Using LGBTQ+ team members as props
- Leveraging the rainbow to push products
- Underpaying queer talent
- Changing logos temporarily
- Fostering unsafe workplaces for queer staff
- Not donating to LBGTQ+ causes
- Running a Pride campaign while donating to anti-LBGTQ+ organizations/public figures
Fortunately, our partners at McDonald’s are striving not just to ‘talk the talk’ but ‘walk the walk.’ McDonald’s established a new mantra for Pride. One that is predicated on inclusive and equitable practices and engagement.
The mantra states that McDonald’s supports, encourages, and amplifies inclusivity and representation, and that all people associated with the brand should be their authentic selves. Simply stated: To be lovin’ their life, living their truth, real and out loud.
Our credo: Do good because doing good is the right thing to do, not because you want credit for it. We know from experience that doing good builds equity for the brand, which will yield immeasurable dividends in the future while concurrently creating a more inclusive space for all.
We engage with the LGBTQ+ community on behalf of McDonald’s as a year-round commitment. We leverage social media influencers with an annual promotional calendar. None of them talk about “pride” or message that they are LGBTQ+. Instead, they talk about everyday life and positive associations with the brand in a way that is authentic to them. Our strategy is to share original, relatable content that reflects inclusivity and representation for our influencers.
These efforts are augmented by year-long philanthropy involvement that’s about supporting local LGBTQ+ communities where McDonald’s operates, not product or retail.
We support McDonald’s franchisees in seven markets, representing over 1700 restaurants. This year, Davis Elen brought the McDonald’s Pride mantra to life through Pride activations in three of those markets – Washington, D.C.; Portland, OR; and Seattle., WA. We also represented Chicago-headquartered McDonald’s Corporate for its Pride parade in N. Halsted, Chicago.
Our activations included a double-decker bus for Washington, D.C., floats in Seattle and Chicago, and swag to handout to crowds, apparel for volunteers, as well as flags, and banners – all either designed, co-designed, or produced by Davis Elen. Additionally, we hired queer DJ talent to spin the hottest music on our floats.
We amplified the activations through queer influencers who appeared at our events, pushing original content, and creating feel-good moments. One of our influencers stole the show and set the tone for our Washington, D.C. activation. He’s Frank Grimsley, AKA FrankNtheCity and the winner of the hit Netflix reality social media game show, The Circle. Frank recently came out to his family and has had an uphill battle with his identity as a Black, gay, plus-size man but he is keeping it real and representing his truth as a local McDonald’s ambassador.
When it comes to Pride, it’s a privilege to partner with brands that are committed to amplifying the voices of the LGBTQ+ community, encouraging all to live their truth. When clients like McDonald’s put their money where their mouth is, it makes our job easy, allowing us to step in and do what we do best, which is creating original and inspiring feel-good moments between the community and the brand.