In an increasingly digital world, we all need human connection. In the LGBTQ+ community, these connections can make all the difference. LGBTQ+ youth often face victimization on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity and are at an elevated risk for depression, anxiety, substance use, and suicide. Those who have access to LGBTQ-affirming spaces or felt high social support from family and friends report significantly lower rates of attempted suicide.
Standing for Equality is a core value at AT&T, and they have been a proud ally of the LGBTQ+ community since 1975. In 2021, AT&T reaffirmed their support by committing $750,000 to The Trevor Project, an organization aimed at preventing LGBTQ+ youth suicide.
We needed to highlight AT&T’s power of connection and our role in supporting through digital access & active allyship.
Partnering with ATTN:, we created the video series “The Love Connection”. In a series of intimate interviews with luminaries within the community, we shared how digital connectivity has facilitated life-changing moments and helped forge lasting relationships. From social struggles to battling isolation, they illustrate how crucial feeling supported is, especially in the LGBTQ+ world where family often doesn’t understand. The engaging video-series featured on social channels maintained a common theme: connecting on both a technological and human level increases feelings of support and mental health.
From social struggles to battling isolation, the video series illustrates how crucial feeling supported is, especially in the LGBTQ+ world. Bringing the campaign to life, every video ran along the theme of how technology supports wellbeing and connection. Whether picking up the phone to call a friend or using online support groups, real connection is only a click away. AT&T’s brand promotes inter-connectivity through reliable, fast telecommunications services which in turn allows people to feel more connected to others, and therefore, lessen the feelings of isolation.
“The Love Connection” featured a variety of LGBTQ+ individuals conveying their journeys in a marginalized community.
Gender nonconforming, Alok, details how they received negative comments about their appearance. Instead of these occurrences triggering them, they inspire others to “live life on their own terms” as they do. By calling or texting friends, difficulties can be minimized. Black trans woman, Peppermint, speaks about dating shame but also highlights how technology enabled her to pursue a relationship with a man overseas. In another video, a transgender activist, father and husband named Aydian speaks about his transition journey. He looked at others trans experiences online and ultimately captured his own journey to help others. Then there is Laith - an actor, singer, songwriter, model and trans man – who explains how connecting with his aunt potentially saved him from suicide when he was outed as a teen. Lastly, Isis King, who was the first trans woman to compete on America’s Next Top Model, shares the importance of finding her best friend while adjusting to her new life.
The LGBTQ+ individuals highlighted in the “The Love Connection” had undergone genuine hardships and were able to speak in a way in which others could emotively relate to. AT&T’s strategy invited these marginalized individuals to share their perspectives and helped raise their voices and experiences.
As ATTN: is focused on ethical media representation, it was the perfect conduit for bringing together the stories of those whose journeys were particularly sensitive. Each individual story provided its own perspective, from explanations about how to overcome harassment to addressing ignorance about the LGBTQ+ community.
The major challenge revolved around moderation and backlash. The videos prompted some comments from unaware individuals at the onset.
Refining the most effective strategy for navigating sensitive topics within the LBGTQ+ campaign became vital, and AT&T responded by stepping in to show its support of the LGBTQ+ community. Strategic moderation tactics were put in place; with comments being closely watched and regulated. Red flag lists were continuously updated, increasing efficacy of the moderation approach. Positive communication was encouraged to keep the comments constructive and supportive to keep this space as safe as possible for the LGBTQ+ community.
The matter of protecting and empowering LGBTQ+ individuals was the initial reason the campaign was created, so AT&T sought to uphold that ethos throughout the campaign’s run. “The Love Connection” truly allowed AT&T to be in the spotlight as a brand of integrity and ethics by promoting inclusion despite contentious viewpoints.
Major successes were seen across the board with “The Love Connection” both qualitatively and by observable metrics.
Despite some initial backlash, the campaign overarchingly received positive responses. Constructive conversations were encouraged between LGBTQ+ members and their allies, and those less understanding were moderated.
Though AT&T’s branding was nuanced, overall brand perceptions elevated drastically. A 19-percentage point lift (13% to 32%) was seen in agreement to the statement “AT&T supports the LGBTQ+ community through digital access & active allyship.” The campaign outperformed message association by 11.2x. Customers were more likely to rank AT&T as a company upholding acceptance and regarded AT&T as an ally to the LGBTQ+ community.
The “Love Connection” was a success for the Trevor Project, ATTN:, and AT&T in gaining exposure for the benefit of the LGBTQ+ community. Standing for Equality and being a proud ally of the LGBTQ+ community are core values at AT&T. The „Love Connection“ inspired customers to view AT&T as a company that upholds ethics and social justice for everyone.
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