The Parade Must Go On(line)
Pride Month (June) – a celebration of equality, dignity and acceptance – had lost its biggest stage and moment of the year due to the global Covid-19 pandemic. Hundreds of IRL celebrations were cancelled, and millions of LGBTQI+ people lost their most cherished opportunity to come together and celebrate whoever they are and what they stand for.
A year without Pride was simply inconceivable, so Pride organisations banded together to form Global Pride 2020: bringing the festivities online with a 24-hour stream of LGBTQI+ content.
Whilst the livestream enabled Pride to continue, it soon became clear to us that the social interactions within the community would still be lost, along with much of its media appeal, slowing down the broader LGBTQI+ agenda.
We needed to find a supporting experience that could bring back some of the missing elements of physical pride parades while achieving two key objectives:
Virtual Pride, Real Needs
The primary reason people attended Pride parades and events was to socialise and express themselves freely. That’s when we knew traditional social channels would be an unlikely solution to deliver on the Pride spirit, but perhaps a social game could — because games are places where self-expression and interaction are already integrated by design.
For Gaymers Everywhere
We tapped into a medium where an existing subcommunity was congregating: ‘Gaymers’. This user group had been using games as a safe harbour to fight for more representation without the risks they often carried attending physical events; and as early as March 2020, their top subject was an emerging phenomenon: Animal Crossing New Horizons (ACNH), earning over 20,000 LGBTQI+ conversations. Within ACNH, gaymers enjoy a peaceful existence full of creativity, freedom, and charm; they can be whoever they want to be in the game.
And just like that, Global Pride found a new and lovely home for the month of June.
Playing With Pride
Introducing Global Pride Crossing — a virtual pride within the comforts of ACNH, designed to keep the parade spirit alive and inspire all LGBTQI+ individuals, advocates, allies to come together and celebrate loudly and proudly.
We immersed ourselves in the world of Animal Crossing by building a Pride-themed in-game island from scratch that brought many signature Pride items and activities within reach of the community. We paved a rainbow brick road to march on, curated a Queer Hall of Fame to start conversations, and designed a Pride-themed clothing collection for game avatars; and much more.
Outside of ACNH, we fervently shared our Pride creations on Twitter, which had a large and active community for all things ACNH. We also introduced limited Dodo code drops (access codes to the island) to heighten excitement and increase engagement. Moreover, this platform showcased other ACNH players who were actively sharing content about their visits to Pride Island and even those that had brought our design elements into their own celebrations.
We also wanted more people to experience the joy and the community of Pride, which meant looking beyond players that already had access to ACNH. To target non-players, we made an active effort for the campaign to be streamer-friendly as well. In the week leading up to the event, we invited pro-LGBTQI+ Twitch streamers to live-stream a Pride Island tour, exciting a wider queer audience who did not have access to ACNH to join forces with us and reimagine Pride. Viewers actively watched these streams, sharing positive responses on their social channels and inviting others to join.
The activation grand finale took place on Global Pride Day itself when our team of Twitch streamers went live again. This time, they hosted their own Pride activities on their ACNH islands, which now incorporated many of the Pride features originally designed by us.
From Pride parties to Pride weddings to Pride picnics (all within ACNH), Global Pride day was buzzing with positive energy, culture, and fun that were trademarks of physical Pride events and the LGBTQI+ community.
Smashing Our Targets
We concluded the campaign feeling celebrated and seen.
Global Pride Crossing thrived with $0 media spend. Our campaign hashtag garnered over 25.2 million organic impressions within a fortnight; even Nike used our hashtag for their Animal Crossing Pride apparel collection drop.
The booming ACNH community quickly rose to the task as we saw players’ own islands exploding in a flurry of rainbows. Our Twitter channel was buzzing, earning over 93,000 Twitter engagements as players enthusiastically shared their Pride creations with us.
The gaymer community tuned in to our influencers’ live streams, reaching over 1.07 million minutes watched across Twitch, Facebook and YouTube; that’s 24 months of non-stop Pride celebration packed in less than two weeks.
The campaign also gained high visibility as the media fell in love with our idea and further spread our call. Global Pride Crossing had close to 90 pieces of news coverage and earned an estimated 3.86 million coverage views, including features on Forbes, BBC, Hypebeast and AdWeek.