Finding Pride in Year-Round Allyship

As consumers continue to seek out brands with a strong brand purpose, marketers need to be conscious about how they participate in celebratory months.


According to research from Zeno Group, consumers are four times more likely to purchase a brand with a strong, clear purpose; 4.5 times more likely to recommend that brand to a friend; and six times more likely to support that brand during a challenging time. So how can brands ensure they are clearly purposeful in their work and not participating just for the sake of pulling in specific consumers?

When June comes around, brand and retailer logos turn rainbow for Pride Month, with the many colors sometimes extending to their products as well. But oftentimes, the effort to support the LGBTQ+ community ends there and with no other actions throughout the rest of the year. Meanwhile, consumers are becoming more and more savvy to hollow efforts, jumping to social media to call out cases of rainbow-washing.


“When you create an atmosphere of acceptance, it provides levity and allows someone to display their true authentic self,” says Matt Soden, Senior Project Manager at The Mars Agency. However, that atmosphere of acceptance cannot be created by simply making products rainbow. Consumers want to feel seen, heard, and connected, explains Soden, who recently joined with Creative Director Rich Hashimoto to educate their Mars colleagues about the topic.


Efforts from brands and retailers need to reach beyond rainbow marketing and products. If they truly seek to avoid rainbow washing and prove their progressive support for LGBTQ+ equality, brands and retailers should follow these guidelines:

  1. Put the same time and resources toward LGBTQ+ marketing initiatives as you would the rest of your campaigns.

  2. Create content with the LGBTQ+ community in mind.

  3. Recognize that the LGBTQ+ community is more than one audience or persona.

  4. Have representation in the room when working on campaigns.

  5. Connect the marketing to your company values.

  6. Donate to causes that matter to the LGBTQ+ community.

  7. Don’t limit your activities and support to Pride Month only.

Specific groups of consumers don’t cease to exist outside of their designated months, and these steps can extend to initiatives tying into all celebratory months. Brands and retailers will better succeed if they practice allyship year-round. According to Fast Company, 72% of consumers say they’re more likely to stay loyal to a brand with a strong purpose. When there is a thoughtful, understanding, and educational effort, shoppers will respond.


How can agencies support their clients’ initiatives? At The Mars Agency, we’re working with our clients to support these efforts in a way that makes sense to them. We continually track consumer behavior trends like these through our Marilyn® technology platform to identify the insights that will help clients better connect with their audiences. In addition, we’ve implemented a Multicultural Advisory Panel that meets regularly to review internal content through a diverse lens and provide feedback to ensure the work is both inclusive and culturally competent.


In addition to content reviews, we are actively working to be more involved in the various communities we’re a part of. We are continuously reaching out to the local organizations that each regional office supports to see how we can inspire action and the best way to do that. This way, when we are collaborating with clients, we’re not only “talking the talk” but also “walking the walk.”


By utilizing this multifaceted approach year-round, we are striving both to impact the lack of diversity in the industry and to create a more inclusive narrative through our work with clients.


Want to know more about the growing need for brand purpose? Check out the insights from Marilyn here.


Written by Marketing Coordinator Rachel Marks, based on thought leadership provided by Creative Director Rich Hashimoto and Senior Project Manager Matt Soden.