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Corporate Brands Parade Support for Marriage Equality

Posted by Bill McRae Filed Under Social Media, McBru Crew, Events

I went to San Francisco for the opera, but stayed for the biggest Gay Pride celebration in history.

 And while last weekend’s festivities in San Francisco were largely fueled by spontaneity—who could have foreseen that the U.S. Supreme Court would rule to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states on the same weekend that the city celebrates Gay Pride?—it’s clear from social media activity that many major brands were ready for the announcement.

The ability to react quickly to the marriage equality decision is a lesson in how savvy marketers can use social media to tap into fast-moving news and the public's excitement to advance their brands. Many of these companies succeeded in demonstrating their support for their LGBT customers and employees while showcasing their progressive and inclusive corporate cultures to an audience of young and engaged potential employees.

 According to Digiday, “The hashtag, #LoveWins, became the unofficial rallying call for supporters and was tweeted more than 2.8 million times (and growing) according to Topsy. Data from Brandwatch, a social media analytics firm, told Digiday that the hashtag garnered 4.5 billion impressions.” The response on social media to the ruling has been overwhelmingly favorable, with 17 times more positive tweets than negative tweets.

It remains to be seen if this support for progressive causes will translate into increased business for the brands that came out in force after last week’s Supreme Court announcement. According to the Pew Research Center, 57 percent of Americans now favor marriage equality, with support strongest in younger generations: Millennials (born 1981 and after) support marriage equality by 73 percent. Digiday also reports that of the millions of tweets posted with the hashtag #LoveWins, 65 percent were written by women.

So for brands seeking to grow awareness and approval with younger and more female audiences, speaking out in support of marriage equality is a smart strategy, one that should pay increased dividends over time. For many brands, it’s not just being on the right side of history (though I’d like to think that enters the equation), it’s also being on the smart side of tomorrow's business.

From Opera House to Gay Pride Parade

I had purchased tickets to San Francisco Opera’s Les Troyens last September, long before I even knew that my trip would overlap with the city’s Gay Pride celebration. And I certainly had no inkling that the Supremes would release their marriage equality ruling during my trip. But the combination of grand opera and vast, giddy celebration made for an extraordinarily exciting and meaningful set of San Francisco experiences.

SFCity_HallThe morning of the announcement, the San Francisco City Hall was draped with a huge rainbow flag. [photo]
 
SFCastroOn Saturday, spontaneous crowds topping 100,000 packed the Castro for rejoicing and revelry. [photo]
 
sfDykes_on_Bikes2The multitudes gathered for the Gay Pride parade on Sunday. An estimated 1 million people lined the parade route along Market Street and assembled in the civic center for food, drinks, speakers, and music. That’s a lot of people, and depending on your point of view, either exhilarating or terrifying. It’s also a lot of eyeballs, and a huge opportunity for brands to put their messages across.

Several high tech companies had a significant presence in the parade, including Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Uber and Airbnb. But it was Apple that really excelled—some 8,000 Apple employees and their families marched together, all wearing white shirts and waving rainbow flags. The size of the Apple contingent was truly impressive—it took over half an hour for the entire column to pass where I was standing, and the overwhelming impression was: What a great, socially progressive company! For brand amplification and recruitment potential, it was a brilliant move.

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Photo: Tim Cook/Twitter

Taking Pride to Social Media

Other brands participated on social media. Digiday wrote that “companies quickly attached themselves to this wave of happiness and sent out tweets that reflected positively on themselves and the news.”

Following are some of my favorites; for a more extensive selection of custom Twitter graphics in support of marriage equality, go to Digiday’s #LoveWins: Brands explode with pride following gay marriage ruling.

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Did your company take to social media in support of marriage equality? Tell us about your experience in the comments section below.