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
From our conversations with members of the LGBTQI+ community, we learned that the social aspect of Pride was not just a “good to have,' 'but the primary reason people participated.
That’s when we knew traditional social channels wouldn’t be the solution, but perhaps a social game could — because games are places where self-expression and interaction are already integrated by design. The LGBTQI+ community was also using games as a safe harbour to fight for more representation without the risks they often carried attending physical events.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons — More Than Just A Trend
We were then inspired by the thriving LGBTQI+ conversations (over 20,000 mentions) around Animal Crossing: New Horizons (ACNH) since its launch in March 2020. The game happened to be what the world needed during a period of turbulence and fear: a creative outlet where users could pour in hours upon hours to build their own idyll. It has evolved into a truly meditative and relaxing escape where players get to be whoever they want to be in the game.
Thus, we united the Pride movement with a 2020 favourite: Global Pride Crossing — a virtual pride within the comforts of ACNH, providing a shared safe space for the queer community to freely gather and express themselves loud and proud. The social activation embraced and celebrated identity, encouraging respect and acceptance of the LGBTQI+ community. It was the perfect complement to Global Pride 2020’s one-day-only broadcast.
Welcome to Global Pride Island
The activation was built around a Pride-themed in-game island, which brought signature Pride activities online: a rainbow brick road, a Queer Hall of Fame, a Pride-themed clothing collection, and so much more.
In the two weeks leading up to Global Pride’s 24-hour broadcast, we actively shared our fun-filled Pride Island on Twitter, which already had a large and active community for all things ACNH. LGBTQI+ players quickly caught on and joined in on the celebrations, organising their own in-game Pride parades using our designs.
To further spread the joy and community of Pride, we teamed up with pro-LGBTQI+ gaming creators. Through Twitch/Facebook live streams, more people got to experience a virtual Pride in some form or another.
Global Pride Crossing was buzzing with positive energy, conversation and fun - all trademarks of physical Pride events and of the LGBTQI+ community at large.
Our commitment to enriching the event experience by tapping into existing social behaviours, saw it bring LGBTQI+ and ACNH communities together with resounding success. Pride had found a new and lovely home not just for a day, but whenever the community would need a safe space.
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.