When we look back on 2020 in years to come, the first things that spring to mind are likely to revolve around Covid-19 and its fallout: quarantine, endless VC meetings, and the infamous flour and loo roll shortages…
I don’t imagine that increasingly inclusive LGBT+ representation in the advertising world would be one of the first things that jumps to mind. However, over the last year a positive trend in LGBT+ representation, particularly in TV ads, has been growing. Thoughtful and well-produced ads have proliferated, highlighting both the everyday and special moments in the lives of the LGBT+ community. In honour of National Coming Out day, I’ve handpicked a few standout ads that are indicative of this trend and showcase the positive force that advertising can play in our everyday lives.
Starbucks has won widespread acclaim for its TV ad highlighting the challenges that members of the trans community face everyday. From being misgendered to being dead-named (being called by a name a trans person used before they transitioned) by both individuals and institutions, this ad highlights some of the challenges that are unfortunately daily occurrences all too often for trans people. The simple act of the right name being written on your coffee cup shows how small gestures can make a big difference. It also serves as a reminder that the process of coming out is rarely a one-off event. For many people in the LGBT+ community ‘coming out’ happens again and again across the course of a lifetime. My hope for our community is that this process becomes less and less stressful as progress is made in the fight for equality and acceptance for all. The fact that this ad has been made at all gives an indication that both society and brands are making positive steps on that journey together.
Another relatable life moment that many of us have experienced – having your boiler breakdown at the worst possible time – is featured in an ad from British Gas that champions LGBT+ inclusion. The ‘Here to Solve’ campaign, highlighting a sped-up version of everyday events from a gay couple’s life, is a good example of how LGBT+ representation in media doesn’t have to involve a fanfare and can simply be about the regular trials and tribulations of getting through the day. Coming out can be a key milestone for many but what happens after that is also important and the unfussy positive representation in this ad serves to show how simple this can be.
‘Simple’ may not define the final ad in this shortlist but it is no less important to a discussion about LGBT+ representation in 2019/20. The Renault Clio ad, “30 Years in the Making”, packs a cinematic punch and weighs in at an impressive 2 minutes 11 seconds. Chronicling the 30 year relationship between two girls who meet in childhood and find each other again as adults, overcoming prejudice and rejection to be together, is as luxe a TV ad as you’re likely to see. The effort, skill, and financial backing behind this ad highlights this as a story worth telling and worth recognising. Being able to see both the more difficult elements of LGBT+ life and the more mundane elements reflected back at you in mainstream media sends the message that you are part of the societal narrative and an integral part of the whole. As National Coming Out day has rolled around again this year, I can think of no more important message to share than that.