Every June companies upload rainbow logos and launch initiatives, campaigns, and products to celebrate Pride Month, and it’s not hard to see why; LGBTQ+ Canadians have an estimated spending power of $86 billion. But this community hasn’t always been perceived as a goldmine for advertisers. Rather, the industry’s relationship to queer consumers has evolved from total dismissal, to curiosity, to direct targeting, and has evolved more recently into a more skeptical reception from members of the community. Understanding this complex dynamic is key for brands who wish to target, work with, and support LGBTQ+ people.

This nuanced relationship truly began to surface during the AIDS epidemic. As the illness devastated the community and politicians were criticized for their apathy towards those suffering, brands like Benetton made waves with strikingly controversial campaigns. Shortly after, advertisers took note of the spending power of the LGBTQ+ community, creating ads that were vaguely queer-coded. This curiosity eventually turned into a full pursuit, with ads directly targeting the community. As a result, LGBTQ+ people began to leverage their spending power, even boycotting brands that denied their employees equal treatment – a new avenue for activism.

Today, advertising towards the LGBTQ+ community, if rushed to market, can be interpreted as “Pink-washing” and “rainbow-washing”. Moving into the future, companies that want to participate in Pride ethically and meaningfully can do so by creating queer-friendly workplaces, collaborating with queer talent, compensating queer creators fairly, and giving back to the community in genuine ways. As a result, brands have an opportunity to make meaningful and lasting relationships with LGBTQ+ consumers by demonstrating their sensitivity to the struggles and the values of these communities.

Join President of Bleublancrouge, Wahn Yoon, to better understand how to market to the LGBTQ+ community and to avoid rainbow-washing.

Presenter: Wahn Yoon, President, Bleublancrouge (BBR) Toronto
Date: Thursday, December 2, 2021
Time: 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. ET

For members only:

Presentation slides

Video recording

If you have any questions or have difficulty registering, please contact Davina Wong: 416-964-3805 ext. 1007

Wahn Yoon, President, Bleublancrouge (BBR) Toronto

Wahn’s career spans 20 years as a strategist and innovator in multiple sectors. His early training in strategy was at JWT New York and Toronto, where he went on to become senior director and strategist at JWT. He was instrumental in developing and launching Ethos, a WPP global consultancy specializing in cause-related marketing and corporate responsibility strategy. Wahn went on to win numerous Cassies Awards for outstanding business results through advertising. He is currently President of creative agency Bleublancrouge (BRR) Toronto and is one of the founders of the Humanise Collective. He also co-founded L’Institut Idée, a unique consultancy that uses Connected Intelligence approaches to master planning.

Wahn attended Harvard College and Columbia University Business School and is a proud board member of POV, an organization dedicated to helping promising creators of colour find careers in advertising and film.