Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Molly Towers Mode & Tatenda Nyamande: Spirit Day, what is it and why should I care?

NDA is proud to welcome new joint columnists Molly Towers Mode, Senior Associate Director at EssenceMediacom UK and Tatenda Nyamande, an Account Planner at EssenceMediacom.

Tatenda Nyamande is an Account Planner at EssenceMediacom UK with a keen interest in supporting brands to deliver authentic campaigns and speak to diverse audiences. With two years’ industry experience, she has undertaken training around Mental Health Allyship, and is breaking down barriers in the industry every day with bravery and kindness.

Molly Towers Mode is a Senior Associate Director at EssenceMediacom UK. She actively champions diversity, equity and inclusion through her work and is passionate about improving representation in the advertising industry.

#SpiritDay is an annual movement inspired by LGBTQIA+ youth to shine a light on bullying and harassment that occurs only too often within the community. Supported by GLAAD, a US media monitoring organization set up to protest against defamatory depictions of LGBTQIA+ people, Spirit Day calls on the world to wear purple and support the next generation of the queer community on the 19th October.

GLAAD research has uncovered that despite LGBTQIA+ acceptance being at an all time high, so too is anti-LGBTQ discrimination and bullying. With the recent anti-Trans rhetoric circulating in mainstream media here in the UK, it is tempting to remain neutral as a brand to try and avoid conflict. However, the stories brands tell have a powerful impact on how consumers behave on a daily basis, and using their platform to stand up for what is right should not be avoided. #SpiritDay is a fantastic cultural moment to stand against bullying and anti-LGBTQIA+ discrimination and show what is possible when leading with acceptance.

Not only is supporting acceptance the right thing to do, but aligning with this is a majority view. In fact, 2 in 3 under 60s believe that it is important to fight discrimination against LGBTQIA+ people. This is significantly increased when it comes to Gen Z and Millennial consumers: 76% agree that brands should be empowering and 78% see a brand as empowering when they provide a platform featuring marginalized talent in a positive light.

Creating and maintaining a positive narrative will therefore make a brand more appealing to consumers: it is a win, win!

Stand your ground

So, your brand has supported the LGBTQIA+ community in their campaign and it receives backlash. What should you do?

This summer, Outvertising called on the advertising industry to ‘stand your ground’ to demonstrate solidarity with the LGBTQIA+ community. Within the pledge were seven ways brands can stand their ground including: continue to run ads, continue to work with talent, and brave the backlash.

Continuing to run the ad is a great way to demonstrate active allyship, by reinforcing that the campaign supports the community and individual regardless of what trolls say. When Bud Light fatally pulled the campaign featuring Trans-talent Dylan Mulvaney in the US, not only did they demonstrate an alignment with the discriminatory views of online trolls, but they then alienated their LGBTQIA+ consumers too. Their share price has not recovered since.

Talking to any diverse community cannot be achieved without featuring diverse voices in all aspects of campaign planning and activation. Partnering with diverse talent is essential for running a successful LGBTQIA+ campaign, because talent can ensure the campaign speaks with an authentic tone of voice. Brands should continue to seek support from talent, and create an effective process to deal with any potential backlash that protects the talent and teams working on the campaign.

Take the pledge

GLAAD have set up a Spirit Day pledge to encourage the queer community and allies to wear purple on the 19th October and take a stand against anti-LGBTQIA+ bullying.

Since it was created in 2010, millions around the world have already worn purple and taken the pledge to speak up and shine a light on acceptance. But even with the encouraging responses to the pledge from brands and consumers alike, there is still work to be done.

Brands need to continue to display allyship and commitment to remaining courageous; show support by wearing purple on Spirit Day and continue to stand your ground with LGBTQIA+ representation in campaigns.