Commentary

LGBTQ Pride: The Hidden Gem Of Event Marketing

Life hacks. Pro tips. Shortcuts. Everyone is seeking undiscovered, effective ways to achieve their goals, both in everyday life and in marketing. Unfortunately, the tricks and advice offered up often don’t work quite the way one might expect (and if you’ve ever been locked out of your home and tried getting back in with two paperclips and a prayer, you know what we mean).

For marketers, however, LGBTQ Pride truly is an undiscovered gem in the experiential world, with huge events taking place in all regions of the country (and world) that attract the largest numbers of diverse audiences hungry for recognition from and engagement with major companies and brands.

For example, NYC Pride gets a whopping 2.1 million attendees — equivalent to the population of Houston and larger than the print circulation of Us Weekly. Not only that, but the cost of a single full-page ad in Us is nearly 50% more than the cost of NYC Pride’s presenting sponsorship. San Francisco Pride, the next largest Pride event in the U.S., draws about 1.7 million attendees. That’s enough people to fill the Rose Bowl — 17times.

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And it’s not just the bigger cities that have major Pride events; Columbus, Ohio’s Pride receives 500,000 attendees, which is about as many people as attend Coachella. Despite that, a high-level gold sponsorship of Columbus Pride is a mere $10,000, which translates to a fraction of a cent per person, a much better ROI than the hundreds of thousands brands spend to show up at an event like Coachella or comparable festivals.

However, these are not just any events – they’re Pride events, and they are an important part of LGBTQ culture. As such, cultural competency is an integral aspect of planning for sponsorship and activation at the festivals, marches and many other events that comprise Prides across the country.

Have you ever walked into a specialized event, and it quickly became clear that the experiential agency activating for a client hadn’t done their homework — the vegan culinary event where a brand’s ambassadors suggest how nicely a poached egg would be atop your Impossible burger, or the African American cultural event where a sponsor is showing off collateral featuring exclusively white talent?

The dissonance created by a lack of understanding of an experience and its attendees is more than a small error, as it can actively turn an audience against the brand, which will be seen as inauthentic. This is especially true for an LGBTQ audience. Ensuring that Pride activations of any type reflect the passion points and general LGBTQ zeitgeist is particularly important. In other words, you don’t want to be the alcohol brand jumping on the bandwagon without forethought and showing up at the gay men’s dance party with a bevy of bodacious babes, as lovely as they may be – it just won’t work. 

One other aspect of LGBTQ Pride events that makes them so desirable, aside from reach and cost-effectiveness, is that it is a singular time of true joy for the attendees. Think of it as the number one gay holiday. There is no other time that lesbian, gay, bi, trans, and queer individuals feel so connected to one another and to the community at large, and brands can leverage the energy and excitement that vibrates throughout Pride to their favor if they play their cards right.

So the next time you’re looking to reach enormous audiences at a fraction of the cost event marketers typically spend for identical or lesser reach, think diversity. Think joy. Think LGBTQ Pride.

Editor’s note: June is Pride month.

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