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From the 4th Annual Shorty Social Good Awards

Spirit Day 2018

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GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, operates to accelerate acceptance for the LGBTQ community through advocacy and activism. One of GLAAD’s largest annual campaigns is Spirit Day - a day dedicated to speaking out against LGBTQ bullying and standing with LGBTQ youth. Since its inception in 2010, Spirit Day has become the largest, most visible LGBTQ-focused anti-bullying campaign in the world and continues to gain momentum. On Spirit Day, people are asked to wear purple, or go purple online, as a show of support for LGBTQ youth. Purple symbolizes ‘spirit’ on the rainbow flag. It launched as a response to a wave of stories of gay teenagers taking their own lives, including Tyler Clementi. In 2017, research found that 85% of LGBTQ students reported being verbally harassed and nearly half experienced cyberbullying. In recognition of the fact that high rates of bullying has alarming ramifications on LGBTQ youth, GLAAD’s objective for Spirit Day in 2018 was to spread messages of love, positivity and hope to LGBTQ youth through the largest amount of channels as possible, and to also amplify the stories of young people who are taking action against bullying and creating safe spaces for LGBTQ youth in everyday life. 

Strategy and Execution

To executive the month-long campaign leading up to Spirit Day, each of GLAAD’s departments played a pivotal role. GLAAD’s Development team secured top-tier sponsors and partners to ensure the greatest amount of visibility. For Spirit Day 2018, partners included Hilton, Target, Wells Fargo, and the NBA. Through the campaign’s partners, GLAAD also worked to create innovative products and initiatives that could help to elevate the message of the campaign to different audiences. A prominent example is how GLAAD worked with Kellogg’s to launch a special edition 'All Together' cereal to support inclusion and to stand up against bullying. Kellogg’s not only created a mediaworthy box featuring all of its mascots, but sent out national eblasts to all of the consumers in its database about its support for LGBTQ youth. 

GLAAD’s Programs team played a key role in using its network of GLAAD Campus Ambassadors, GLAAD Media Institute alumni, and students across America to share their own stories online for Spirit Day, as well as raise general awareness surrounding bullying towards LGBTQ youth. As part of the outreach for the campaign, GLAAD pitched media outlets with profiles of LGBTQ young people who were making a difference in their own communities surrounding anti-bullying efforts as a way to get their stories out into the world. GLAAD also worked with schools across the country to ensure that they had the resources and information necessary to participate in the campaign. Additionally, leading up to and on Spirit Day, GLAAD released Spirit Day videos featuring LGBTQ youth speaking out against bullying. 

GLAAD also worked to expand the campaign’s reach to audiences beyond traditional media and entertainment. In 2018, GLAAD worked with every single Major League Baseball team, as well as the NBA and WNBA to share #SpiritDay messages on social media.

GLAAD’s Communications & Talent Engagement teams sought to use the power of media and celebrity as a way to elevate messages of support for LGBTQ youth. GLAAD worked to ensure that networks such as CNBC, MTV, VH1, and Logo changed their on-air logos to purple and the hosts of Access Hollywood, CNBC, Despierta América, E! News, Entertainment Tonight, Extra, Good Morning America, Live with Kelly and Ryan, The Talk, Un Nuevo Día, and The View recognized Spirit Day on-air and spoke to LGBTQ youth. Through its social media channels, GLAAD also released videos of celebrities including Laverne Cox, Alyssa Milano, Tyra Banks, Mj Rodriguez, and more discussing bullying and calling for Spirit Day participation. 

On top of the various on-air and social media support received from Spirit Day, the campaign was also promoted through events. GLAAD partnered with Britney Spears to make a special guest appearance at the Spirit Day Kick-off Rally in Las Vegas, which was broadcast live from Ellen DeGeneres’ YouTube channel. Additionally, GLAAD worked with singer-songwriter Justin Tranter to host a Spirit Day concert called ‘BEYOND’ the day before the anti-bullying awareness day. ‘BEYOND’ featured appearances from Nick Jonas, Derek Hough, Dan Reynolds, Darren Criss, and more.


On October 18, 2018, millions around the world went purple with GLAAD for Spirit Day in a stand against bullying, sending loud messages of support and positivity to LGBTQ youth and solidifying Spirit Day as the largest, most visible LGBTQ-focused anti-bullying campaign. More than 300 leading influencers and entertainers participated in the 2018 Spirit Day campaign, many of which were unexpected allies who shared grand messages of support to LGBTQ youth. On Twitter, #SpiritDay reached a record 906,181,049; on Instagram, #SpiritDay garnered over 2.2 million likes; on Facebook, there were over 200,000 engagements with Spirit Day. Overall, the 2018 Spirit Campaign accumulated over 1.6 billion social media impressions. Comcast donated $2 million in airtime to run a PSA created by GLAAD featuring LGBTQ youth leading up to the day. 

Diverse outlets from sports, Spanish-Language, entertainment, and news all supported Spirit Day, including a NBC News/TODAY segment on bullying that ran on NBC evening news broadcasts across the country. There were over 150 unique press articles about Spirit Day, highlighting messages of support for LGBTQ youth and as well as stories of young LGBTQ people who are working to combat bullying. Spirit Day was not just recognized in the United States; it included international influencers, organizations, and outlets spanning across all 6 inhabited continents – from Mexico to Uganda, the UK to Australia. 

The Spirit Day concert ‘BEYOND’ also raised over $400,000 for GLAAD’s work to accelerate acceptance for LGBTQ youth. 


Video for Spirit Day 2018

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