BLOG POST BY: Rowan Byers
June 22, 2023

How brands approached Pride through influencers in 2023

It’s Pride month, and it’s been great to see brands and advertisers actively advocating and showing support for LGBTQ+ communities across social media. 

In the past though, a lot of brands have been accused of “rainbow-washing” around Pride – doing meaningless activity like adopting a rainbow icon but showing no further advocacy (or even worse, having policies that actually contradict their public support). 

Social media has given people a voice to call this kind of laziness or hypocrisy out, and more than ever, brands must really consider how they want to meaningfully show up for Pride, and how they’re going to back up their words with actions. 

So has that message been received, and have brands been able to authenticate their Pride influencer marketing this year?

Should brands be involved in Pride?

A lot of people think that brands shouldn’t involve themselves in Pride at all, others believe brands showing support for the LGBTQ+ community help to combat stigma and raise awareness. Brands are stuck between a rock and a hard place, if they say nothing they stand accused of not being supportive, and if they show support they may get accusations of rainbow washing.

Fran Tirado, an LGBTQ+ writer, noted that “In an ideal world, there would be no Pride campaigns. Brands and companies profiting off marginalized identities with bad, rainbow-washed advertising ploys is an abhorrent tradition of this country.”

However, as data from ThinkWithGoogle suggests, 71% of LGBTQ+ respondents and 82% of allies said they were more likely to purchase from a company that supported LGBTQ+ equality. Additionally, 45% of under–34s say they’re more likely to do repeat business with an LGBTQ+ friendly company. With this in mind, it can be argued that brands have an important role to play during Pride month, so long as they stand by the cause.

Pride marketing – How brands can get it right

Members of the LGBTQ+ community have long called for brands to show that their marketing efforts are more than just a Pride flag. Consumers are increasingly discerning and demand genuine engagement from the brand they support. 

Brands need to go beyond superficial gestures by embracing inclusivity, and reflecting real themes like the community’s history, and celebrating its individuals.

There’s definitely a wrong way to approach Pride as a brand, but is there a right way? We’ve learnt that Pride is about self-expression, and embracing who you are. In 2023, brands are enabling creators from the LGBTQ+ community to take center stage, giving them the platform to share their personal stories so that audiences can better understand what Pride is all about.

“Pride is a 24/7 thing, not something brands can just slap a rainbow on.” adds Molly Griffin, Social Media Marketing Manager at Goat. “The LGBTQ+ community deserve brands that will stick by them and support all year round, not just in June, because for us, pride is all day everyday, it’s who we are, that doesn’t go away on the 1st of July, so it shouldn’t stop being a topic of conversation for brands either.”

How brands approached Pride 2023


What they did

In honor of Pride month, TikTok is celebrating and recognising the collective visibility and impact of the LGBTQIA+ community. The platform has introduced its first-ever LGBTQ+ #VisionaryVoices list, spotlighting 15 creators and small business owners who are using TikTok to educate, entertain, and advocate for the community.

#ForYourPride will be spotlighting creators and the wider community throughout Pride month – at 7.8 billion views, we’re already seeing the impact of the community, with creators sharing their stories and personal experience, and how best to celebrate Pride.


So honored to be onof TikTok’s LGBTQ Visionary Voices #visionaryvoices #tiktok #pride #lgbtq

♬ original sound – Andre Isaacs

Why it worked well

TikTok’s campaign works well because the brand has taken a step back, enabling LGBTQ+ creators to become the sole focus, which is what Pride marketing is all about. Consumers don’t need to hear about the brand, they want to hear from members of the community during Pride month. By spotlighting creators, TikTok have been able to raise awareness, promote discoverability and provide creators with the platform to showcase what they’re about. The use of #ForYourPride is an added bonus to keep the conversation rolling on the platform throughout the month.


What they did

HSBC has been a headline partner of Birmingham Pride for the last 5 years, strengthening its commitment to opening up a world of opportunity for everyone. Standing in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community, and rewarding its dedicated customers from the community, was the core messaging of this influencer activation campaign.

This year the brand partnered with LGBTQ+ creators on TikTok, sending them to Birmingham Pride 2023. Throughout the content we see the popular get ready with me (GRWM) format coming through, with influencers showing off their Pride outfits – donning the HSBC summer collection t-shirt nonetheless. 

Creators also unpacked the festivities of Birmingham Pride, giving us the full experience from 360 photoshoots, and immersing in the Pride parade experience.


#AD Our first Birmingham Pride experience together – Thank you HSBC UK #hsbcuk #fyp #coupletiktok #birminghampride #UK #CapCut

♬ EARN YA – Xavier White

Why it worked well

HSBC adopted popular social trends like GRWM, which is themed around makeup and outfit styles and routines, and applied it to audiences looking for Pride inspiration. The campaign was all about giving back, with HSBC rewarding its customers, but also spotlighting content creators from the LGBTQ+ community. Viewers were treated to an immersive Pride 2023 experience, which for non-LGBTQ+ is a chance to better understand the community, what Pride means, and how festivals like Birmingham Pride helps bring people together.


What they did

Garnier started on a mission, one that aimed to celebrate ALL skin, inclusive of ALL races, genders, ages & sexual orientations, with the goal of celebrating diversity.

In partnership with Just Like Us, the LGBTQ+ young people’s charity working with schools and young people across the UK, Garnier sought to empower the young LGBTQ+ community worldwide.

Ahead of Pride 2023, Garnier launched a new Pride themed micellar water and gave creators the platform to express what Pride meant to them.

On TikTok creators showcased the Pride edition micellar water through ‘come get unready with me’ style videos, whilst discussing their personal journey, from the moment they came out – to Pride and what the celebration stands for. 

Garnier also challenged creators to a giant game of Jenga, where each piece had a question themed around Pride and what it’s like to be a part of the LGBTQ+ community. This felt like an authentic way to hold honest discussions, and hear the real opinions of content creators in the community.


Talking about how to be a good ally with my pally Max with @Garnier to celebrate the launch of their Limited Edition Pride Micellar Water in collaboration with Just Like Us #ForYourPride AD

♬ original sound – George Clarke

Why it worked well

Garnier took the GRWM trend and flipped it on its head, prompting creators to create ‘unready with me’ style videos, which helped tie in the brands Pride edition Micellar Water. The idea of having creators participate in a game of Jenga enables raw and authentic discussions to take place around Pride and being LGBTQ+. Despite launching a product, Garnier ensured the campaign wasn’t about the brand, but about giving creators the platform to share their experiences, which along with the partnership with Just Like Us shows its support for the community.


What they did

Skittles made headlines a few years ago when it famously drained the rainbow from its sweets, in aid of Pride month. In 2017 Skittles ditched its signature rainbow candy in favor of an all white appearance to honor Pride month. For some, the cooler-drained candy raised questions around inclusivity, or the lack of it. The feeling was that the decision was inadvertently tone-deaf, rather than supportive of LGBTQ+ people like the brand intended.

This year it has gone for a similar theme, but with packaging designed by five LGBTQ+ artists.  During Pride month, Skittles activated LGBTQ+ creators across TikTok to ‘embrace the rainbow’.

Throughout the activations, we hear Etienne Najman speak about how there isn’t “one right way to be gay,” and the importance of embracing who you are. Alexander Joe shares the secrets of his coming out story, and Elle Deran shares a rather unique method for eating the famous sweets, with the message “how I eat my Skittles says absolutely nothing about how you eat your Skittles.”


#ad This Pride month, and every month, let’s celebrate the rainbow. For the month of June, @skittles is giving up their rainbow for queer storytellers. I am so proud to be a trans person, and I feel so honored that you all are a part of my story. I hope I can help inspire you to celebrate your many colors. #tastetherainbow

♬ original sound – Elle Deran💕

Why it worked well

Skittles has learned from the previous criticism. Where people were angry before – the brand removing its rainbow colors – the brand has listened, and restored the vibrancy, whilst retaining some of its original messaging.

Skittles’ Embrace the Rainbow campaign, at its core, sought to channel self-expression by giving creators the freedom to share their personal stories, and how they were able to embrace their true identity. By allowing creative freedom, the content felt raw, and honest. With this campaign, Skittles has been able to show support for the LGBTQ+ community by raising awareness, and combating anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination.

At the core of the campaign is also a genuine pledge to give back. With every Skittles pack sold, they make a $1 donation to GLAAD, a charity combating anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination.

NYX Professional Makeup

What they did

NYX is the beauty brand that keeps on giving. The brand’s Pride 2023 campaign #GameOutLoud saw influencer partnerships with five gaming creators, who are not only Twitch streamers but also love to get glam while they game…out loud. 

For each of the five creators, NYX designed an avatar based on their styles, taking audiences “behind the scenes to break down the artistry involved in each of the gamer’s makeup looks inspired by their favorite game, how gaming has cultivated community and created a safe space for celebrating individuality.”

The brand created safe places across TikTok, Twitch and Roblox – these are spaces that are free of conflict, criticism, judgment or potentially threatening actions where homophobic, transphobic, racist, and sexist put-downs and remarks will be addressed.

At the House of NYX Professional Makeup in iHeartland on Roblox, the brand featured an NPC (non-player character) that asked visitors to take an allyship pledge, focused on education about safe spaces and LGBTQIA+ community allyship. After committing to the pledge, visitors received an ally badge for their Roblox avatar to wear around the virtual space. 

On Twitch, the brand partnered with LGBTQ+ gamers to host a series of live streams on education, ally messaging, and inclusivity. Allyship training and education was also offered on the brand’s website. Offline, the brand is set to feature safe space activations at both WeHo Pride, and Twitchcon Paris. NYX will present interactive, immersive experiences at both events open to consumers. 

On TikTok NYX brought in the popular beauty and fashion trend, GRWM. Creators across the globe showcased their different looks and styles using the brand’s products on TikTok.


Celebrate pride with me! @nyxcosmetics_canada #ad #Pride #GameOutLoud @shoppersbeauty

♬ original sound – Bryan.MUA

Why it worked well

Gaming is no longer just a boys’ pastime, the culture is rich in diversity and brands, creators and the wider usership are vying for inclusivity in gaming.

NYX has been in the gaming industry for a while, having appeared at TwitchCon and sponsoring gamers across YouTube, TikTok and Twitch. The #GameOutLoud campaign shined a spotlight on some of gaming’s top LGBTQ+ creators, giving them the platform to shine during Pride month, and bring their styles to life with NYX products. As well as advocating for LGBTQ+ inclusion in gaming, the brand has also paid homage to the rise of immersive gaming, hence the Roblox activation. 

Unique styles and forms of activation aside, the campaign was all about inclusion, and education around Pride and being LGBTQ+. The launch of safe spaces, allyship messaging, and training through livestream content are all examples of the brand’s advocacy for Pride month, and willingness to challenge anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination.


Verizon’s all-digital wireless service, Visible, has premiered its new Pride campaign, packaged in the form of a retro game show. ’No Straight Answers’ pays homage to the 1970s, the decade in which Pride celebrations began. The show was hosted by Benito Skinner, AKA Benny Drama.

Social stars and LGBTQ+ activists, the Old Gays go head-to-head in a game that celebrated those who paved the way for Pride to flourish.

Why it worked well

From the start of June, Visible has dedicated its year-long support of Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders (SAGE), to help combat loneliness for elders in the community. Members of the LGBTQ+ community have challenged brands on their “temporary” advocacy – Verizon has promised to continue its support beyond Pride, which shows a contribution that extends far beyond simply adopting a rainbow logo throughout June. 

Verizon’s Pride campaign does a great job of highlighting the LGBTQ+ community’s history, showing audiences that people have been fighting for their rights long before the advent of social media.

The North Face

What they did

The North Face titled its Pride Month campaign the “Summer of Pride”. The brand launched a collection of outdoor apparel, themed around the LGBTQ+ community.

The outdoor apparel brand released its ad, featuring drag queen Pattie Gonna, with the messaging “Nature lets you be who you are – celebrate you and all the beautiful ways you can get outside.” They wrote in an Instagram caption.

Despite the brand’s goodwill and encouragement of self-expression, Conservatives were quick in mustering a boycott of North Face, claiming that the ad had nothing to do with outdoor clothing, and all-to-do with “woke marketing” wrote Lauren Boebert via Twitter.

Why it worked well

The North Face has since stood by its campaign, doubling down on its support for the LGBTQ+ community by saying it stands “with those who support our vision for a more inclusive outdoor industry.” Standing in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community has been a key theme throughout Pride 2023 – a feature that not all brands have been able to reflect.

Bud Light experienced a controversy all of its own. The brands partnership with Dylan Mulvaney on TikTok, showed off a Pride-themed can with its various pronouns. Following sizable scrutiny from conservative America, Bud Light’s sales had dropped by 23%. In a statement released on Twitter, Anheuser-Busch CEO, Brendan Whitworth, neither stood in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community, nor did it address the controversy. However, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, two Anheuser-Busch marketing executives had been placed on leave, sparking further backlash from LGBTQ+ advocates that the company was not standing by its marketing division amid the controversy.

“When a brand sticks by the LGBTQ+ community even when facing public backlash, that’s when you know they are a true ally.” says Griffin.

Pride is a time to remember and recognise the people that have fought for LGBTQ+ rights, to keep fighting for these rights, and to reflect on how we can do better. For brands, the key is to listen more than talk, and give the microphone to people within the community. Crucially, for brands looking to partner with LGBTQ+ creators, they not only need to be able to demonstrate they actually care about the cause long term (not just during June) and that they’re doing meaningful work. And above all, brands need to stand in solidarity with any creators they work with, not back down when faced with criticism. 

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Written by: Rowan Byers

Insights Executive at The Goat Agency