Global Pride is a powerful statement of equality, dignity and acceptance. It is a moment to shut out hate and celebrate identity safely, in the open, as a community. However, in 2020, COVID crashed the party: hundreds of Pride events were forced to cancel and millions of LGBTI+ people have lost their most cherished opportunity to come together and celebrate whoever they are and what they stand for.
In this situation, Interpride - the organisation behind the global coordination of events - faced a challenge to re-energise the community and communicate its relevance to society in general, without the use of physical events.
With the announcement of a 24 hour stream on June 27th to replace these events, we agreed with Interpride to develop an accompanying virtual experience that could achieve 2 major goals:
Virtual Pride, Real Needs
To get started, we applied social listening, analysed online panel data and spoke to community members to understand how they felt about this year’s cancelation of physical pride events. We quickly identified that the social aspect of the event was going to be dearly missed. That made us realize that the best platform to host the activation was not a social network, but a social game - because games are not only free from the barriers of the outside world, but games are places where self-expression and interaction are integrated by design.
Animal Crossing - More Than Just a Trend
When we dug deeper, we found that games are widely considered as safe places that the community already loved and gathered. “Gaymers” are very active and frequently lean into topics of identity - and, in March 2020, their top subject was neither Fortnite, nor Minecraft, it was another emerging phenomenon: Animal Crossing - New Horizons (ACNH). The game had over 50,000 LGBTI+ conversations prior to Pride month alone and had incredible customization features we could leverage. It was the perfect solution to our problem: turning a prominent IRL parade into a virtual celebration. Global Pride had found a new and lovely home for 2020.
An Event To Be Proud Of
We provided players with the tools and inspiration they needed on ACNH, including an entire Pride island where they could experience different Pride activities. We had a rainbow brick road for players to march on, a Queer Hall of Fame featuring notable LGBTI+ heroes as well as a range of Pride-themed clothing collection for players to bring home, and so much more. Our fun-filled island quickly attracted the attention of ACNH players, inspiring many of them to adopt some of our design features into their own islands.
Meanwhile, we teamed up with pro-LGBTI+ Twitch creators to help amplify the campaign and build momentum. In the week leading up to the event, we invited the creators to live-stream a tour of our island on their channel, exciting their queer audiences to join forces and reimagine Pride amid the pandemic. Viewers actively watched these streams, sharing positive responses on their social channels and inviting others to join.
The activation grand finale took place on Pride Day itself. Our team of Twitch creators from around the world went live again, but this time around, they hosted their own Pride activities on their ACNH islands, which now incorporated many of the Pride features originally designed by us. From Pride parties to Pride weddings to Pride picnics, the day was buzzing with positive energy, culture and fun that were trademarks of physical Pride events and of the LGBTI+ community at large.
Impact Beyond the Screens
In this period when communities around the world remain separated as a result of lockdowns, #GlobalPrideCrossing provided a shared safe space for members of any gender, sexual orientation, race or ethnicity to come together and celebrate — spreading the Pride movement, pixel by pixel.
We concluded the campaign feeling celebrated and seen. On social, the campaign hashtag #GlobalPrideCrossing garnered over 25 million impressions within a short span of two weeks. The Pride spirit was so inclusive, even world-renowned brands like Nike jumped in, using our hashtag for their apparel collection drop.
We witnessed islands on ACNH exploding in a flurry of rainbows. Our dedicated Twitter account was buzzing, earning over 93,000 engagements as players enthusiastically shared their Pride creations with us.
The gaymer community tuned in to our campaign videos and streams. Our gaming creators drove over 1 million minutes watched across Twitch, Facebook and YouTube. This is the equivalent of over 24 months of non-stop Pride celebration packed into less than two weeks.
The media fell in love with our idea and further spread our call. The campaign had close to 90 pieces of news coverage and 3.85 million coverage views, including features on Forbes, BBC, PinkNews and Hypebeast.
The results far exceeded our expectations, and we are proud to be able to spread the LGBTI+ movement and celebrate diversity and equality even during these challenging times.