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 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.
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 can 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.
An Event To Be Proud Of
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 designed an ecosystem where interactivity and engagement were the driving forces. We first utilised ACNH’s incredible customisation features and built a world (or ‘island’) of our own, recreating signature activities to emulate the lost culture, fun and sparkle of physical Pride events.
The 24-hour broadcast for Global Pride 2020 was set on June 27. To build momentum towards the day, we unveiled our Global Pride island on Twitter two weeks prior. We continued to provide valuable resources like tutorial videos and design codes, for players to begin organising their very own in-game Pride parades through our creations. Twitter was also a fantastic primary channel for us to share ongoing UGC through #GlobalPrideCrossing, feeding the activation with positive energy, conversation and fun - all trademarks of physical Pride events and the LGBTQI+ community at large.
A week before Global Pride Day, 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. Our streamers then went live again on event day, hosting their own Pride activities on their own ACNH islands.
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.
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