Over 250 anti-LGBTQ laws were filed across the country in 2022. As part of a celebration for Pride month, CBS wanted to help audiences on all of their platforms see the humanity in three members of the queer community from different parts of the country. In our national campaign for CBS, we speak directly to our audience, asking them, what would happen if these queer lives vanished?
This film reminds us that the LGBTQ community has fought for decades to be seen, to be heard, and to be loved. That fight is still very much at the forefront of our culture, as hundreds of bills advance in state houses across the country with one goal – to erase the rights and experiences of queer people.
First, we brought on Zen Pace as Creative Director for the project. As a member of the queer community themselves, Zen started with the feeling that these anti-LGBT laws make queer folks feel “erased.” We ran with the concept of erasure, designing our stories around the visual metaphor of talent momentarily vanishing from the scene.
CBS loved the concept, and we immediately started an outreach campaign by contacting individuals directly through social media. Although we were telling “real stories of real people,” each story was explicitly boarded out, each location scouted and set dressed, and every moment thoughtfully directed. At no point did the old and tired formula of talking heads plus B-roll cross our minds.
With 90 deliverables to finish in less than three weeks, we collaborated with post-production artists across four different countries, all managed remotely by our team. A week before delivery, the edit was escalated to the President and CEO of Paramount and met with resounding praise.
Released during Pride Month 2022, CBS and Paramount promoted #SeeUs across all social media channels, gaining over 1.5 million earned impressions. CBS also dedicated over 300 seconds of primetime Thursday night broadcast TV air space to this campaign, making it the company’s largest donation of potential ad revenue in recent history. CBS also dedicated its Times Square billboard to the project during the final week of the month in celebration of the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.
We have no doubt that the success of this project stems from strong representation in our crew; at least seven key leaders of the team identify as gay or queer. While we can measure the campaign’s impact in many ways, one detail stands out. Paul, the rodeo drag queen from New Mexico, received a phone call from his extended family after they saw his story during a commercial break on CBS. They had no idea about his queer identity, and they called to give him their full support.