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Special Project

Special Project
From the 8th Annual Shorty Impact Awards

Visit Philadelphia: Drag Queen story Time

Entered in LGBTQ+


Visit Philadelphia has long supported the LGBTQ+ community. In fact, in 2004, Philadelphia became the first destination in the world to launch an LGBTQ+-themed TV commercial, part of its Philadelphia – Get Your History Straight and Your Nightlife Gay campaign. In the years since, Visit Philadelphia has continually showcased the destination as an LGBTQ+-friendly city through advertising campaigns, web and social media content, PR outreach and more.

In 2023, as anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-transgender legislation was being proposed and passed in multiple states throughout the country, Visit Philadelphia wanted to show that the birthplace of the nation, dubbed the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection, was an open and inclusive place that welcomed all people. To share this message and build awareness, we partnered with CBS New York to create a :30 TV spot showcasing a drag queen story time in front of Independence Hall and complemented it with a social media video series that showed the drag queens enjoying everyday Philadelphia activities that appeal to all.

Strategy and Execution

Visit Philadelphia wanted a TV spot that quickly communicated the values of the destination as welcoming and inclusive. While most paid media produced by Visit Philadelphia, the official tourism promotion agency for the Greater Philadelphia region, includes a direct appeal to visit the city, this spot did not. We communicated our “come visit” message in a traditional tourism spot we also had running on CBS.We debuted the TV spot at the annual Pride Brunch hosted by the Philadelphia Gay News on June 4, where influential members of the LGBTQ+ community, politicians, media and other key stakeholders gather to celebrate the start of Pride Month. The commercial officially began airing on June 5 on CBS stations in both the New York City and Philadelphia DMAs, the first and fourth largest media markets respectively, according to Nielsen. We also paid for the spot to appear on Facebook and Instagram throughout the month to help increase its reach.We took a more-aggressive-than-usual approach in our media outreach, directly engaging with outlets and audiences that expressed anti-LGBTQ+ views in order to reach LGBTQ+ audiences in those communities and showcase Philadelphia as an inclusive and welcoming destination for them.

The Visit Philadelphia team developed a strategic communications plan that included social media, digital communications and a targeted press strategy for Philadelphia and New York City, as well as industry trade publications, LGBTQ+-focused outlets and markets where anti-transgender legislation was enacted or under consideration. We also developed a tool kit for key partners and stakeholders (including local LGBTQ+ community leaders and organizations, politicians involved with LGBTQ+-related issues and allies) to share on their own social channels and engage directly with the TV spot and the social content.Before the spot began airing, we shared an embargoed press release with five outlets, including The Philadelphia Inquirer. After the embargo was lifted, the press release published on Visit Philadelphia’s media center, and we began widespread media outreach to local, national and trade outlets. Visit Philadelphia also posted the spot on all of our social media channels and on our highly trafficked website, each week after the spot’s debut, we released a new social media video to keep the momentum and engagement going all Pride Month long.


The results for this campaign were anything but a drag. The spot ran on CBS New York and CBS Philly 154 times throughout the month of June, generating 23,044,122 impressions.The results on social media were equally impressive, with more than 250,000 views across platforms, 13,000 engagements and a staggering 3.58% engagement rate. Many comments on our posts were negative – something we expected. To reinforce that Philadelphia is an open and welcoming place for all, we replied to negative comments with the Philly sass and humor that our accounts are known for.Our paid social efforts drove 117,000+ views to the spot. Our team secured more than 50 placements on the owned media front. Among the outlets: trade publications like AdWeek and MediaPost, as well as consumer publications such as The Philadelphia Inquirer, which was syndicated in the Miami Herald, Denver Post and the Fort Worth Star Telegram, among others. Self-described conservative media outlets also picked up the story, which admittedly had a more negative tone, including NewsMax and the Daily Caller. In total, these placements generated over 7 million impressions.The total ad value for the piece is over a quarter million dollars.


Video for Visit Philadelphia: Drag Queen story Time

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Visit Philadelphia


Entry Credits