Pride is a critical time for HBO Max and Human By Orientation to engage our existing and potential audiences, queer talent and narratives. The season provides the opportunity to create authentic community connections – both IRL and online. But in recent years, a challenge arose: Pride messaging from brands has oversaturated social media feeds and crowded out the June calendar with IRL activations of all sizes. And most Pride campaigns by big brands act from the same playbook, with targeted ads, surface-level messaging and generic rainbow creative — and they often exploit LGBTQ+ communities in the process.
We were challenged to overcome the growing consciousness around “rainbow-washing.” (This refers to brand virtue signaling as pro-LGBTQ+ and benefiting from the sentiment, while minimizing any actual investment or positive impact on queer communities.) This meant a focus on finding ways to collaborate with and invest in actual queer people who organize and facilitate queer community every day – not just during Pride.
Our objective was to maximize our volume of meaningful physical and digital engagement touchpoints, and build up existing affinity for queer HBO Max IP to drive community tune-in to our streaming platform. Plus, we wanted the Human By Orientation brand to reach further and wider and more deeply than it has before.
Our KPIS: Event Attendance, Awareness, Engagement
Perhaps the simplest way to fight discrimination and promote acceptance of LGBTQ+ people and stories is to make them as visible as possible, and support queer expression in its most authentic forms.
For Pride 2022, HBO Max forged new partnerships with a selection of grassroots queer collectives and powered their creativity – to help each community authentically realize its vision for a Pride. These partners included Ostbahnhof in LA, Masisi in Miami and xCakes/Club Carry/DickAppointment in Brooklyn, each of which have a distinct approach to creating and enriching queer spaces and moments that are inclusive and affirming. Each activation was designed and realized by the collectives, and each event was shared widely via a full takeover of the Human By Orientation Instagram handle, led by well-known social influencers. These icons included RuPaul’s Drag Race star Kerri Colby (LA), entrepreneur and model Jaé Joseph (Miami), and TV star/activist Arewa Basit (Brooklyn) — each of whom was chosen for their unique POV on each event. This allowed for us to not only empower the creation of truly community-led “thrive with Pride” moments, but to share them with Human By Orientation’s owned and partner audiences.
At each event — free for all guests — attendees enjoyed music from rotating local DJs, custom art installations, pop-up performances, community food and gift vendors, and a captivating floral photo backdrop inspired by the popular HBO Original series Euphoria. Each guest left with a custom co-branded t-shirt designed by that city’s collective.
To advance awareness around each celebration, we created mailers consisting of a lush collection of fragrance candles to represent each collectives’ unique purpose. We packed them with sage to cleanse any space and included crystals to promote wellness and healing. Each recipient was encouraged via QR code to explore the “LGBTQ+ Voices” collection on HBO Max.
Audiences unable to attend one of our in-person activations were able to celebrate Pride with Human By Orientation via social. Throughout June, we created more custom content than ever before, promoting 40 different queer HBO Max series and movies. Our robust social content calendar included original “Queerness in Conversation” episodes featuring HBO Max talent discussing identity and representation; “Get Ready with Me” mini-docs that gave viewers an up-close look at talents’ hair, makeup, and styling process; never-before-seen Legendary house interviews; and much more.
We sought to amplify IRL attendance and celebrations with three Pride events:
30MM total impressions through 3 live events
200 community amplification partners
We sought to drive awareness:
5.6B impressions through press/earned media
9.3MM through paid media
We sought to drive engagement:
30 days of custom content
80 original authored posts
222k social media engagements
5.6B impressions through press/earned media
17.8MM impressions and a reach of 9.3MM through paid media.
After two years of virtual Pride, we reunited the community IRL and successfully underscored HxO as a preeminent LGBTQ+ platform.