Nuclear Family is a three-part documentary series following filmmaker Ry Russo-Young as she turns the camera on her own past to explore the meaning of family. In the late 70s/early 80s, when the concept of a LGBTQ+ family was inconceivable to most, Ry and her sister Cade were born to two lesbian mothers through sperm donors. Ry’s idyllic childhood was threatened by an unexpected lawsuit which sent shockwaves through her family’s lives and continues to reverberate today.
The series is a story of LGBTQ+ family that reminds us: family stories from this community’s perspective are seldom told. The cause is a cultural one; we sought to
give voice to LGBTQ+ families commonly overlooked in pop culture and under-represented in children's literature.
HBO Max created a multi-layered content strategy around the series, brought to life as an influencer-led social moment showcasing the uniquely different ways family can manifest.
The goals were to generate awareness, bolster brand sentiment, and drive tune-in through content highlighting the series, while elevating additional familial stories from the LGBTQ+ community.
Remember the LGBTQ+ storybooks you used to read as a child? Us neither.
To showcase the uniquely different ways that family can exist, HBO forged partnerships with illustrators, influencer personalities and celebrity talent to create content from a range of LGBTQ+ perspectives, all nodding to the core issues at the heart of the Nuclear Family docu-series.
Popular digital illustration trends were then leveraged to create original Nuclear Family Storybook artwork, which heightened visibility for queer familial stories – as told through the eyes of popular queer artist Shanée Benjamin (@shaneebenjamin). The campaign filled a gap in the children’s book market by introducing digital and physical book sets featuring LGBTQ+ families, focusing on what makes them a unit.
The campaign successfully created intimate social moments via BTS interviews with talent which fostered a stronger connection with the audience and sparked other LGBTQ+ families to share their poignant, heartwarming stories. The work spotlighted often-untold tales, covering topics including: transitioning as a parent, fertility complications, donor procedures, adoption, and parental rights among marginalized communities.
We connected with an expansive audience and generated serious hype around the Nuclear Family series – creating visibility and content where it was needed most.
The effort yielded 3 queer storybooks, 115 pieces of content garnering 3.7M+ impressions, $591K earned media value, and conversation around visibility where there was little before. Most importantly, the cultural institution of storybooks now provides more inclusion for more loving families.