H&M, Tesco, Coke and Toyota called out by PrideAM for 'inauthentic' portrayals of LGBT+ people

Brands must insist on the involvement of LGBT+ people in the creation of their campaigns if they want to create work that will ring true, a panel of industry experts has said.

PrideAM’s 2018 Creative Review saw 16 advertising and marketing industry leaders gather to assess 13 high profile campaigns featuring LGBT+ portrayals.

Led by PrideAM blogger Phil Clements, and Richard Miles, associate creative director at Therapy, the panel included M&C Saatchi’s chief creative officer Justin Tindall, who generated a storm of controversy last autumn when he wrote in Campaign that he was "bored of diversity being prioritised over talent".

Of the 13 ads, the panel chose especially to criticise Erdem x H&M film "The secret life of flowers", directed by Baz Luhrmann and created by his company, Bazmark Films. They described it as "appalling", "fake" and "full of Brideshead Revisited repression", and said it left them feeling angry and concerned.

But it also criticised the portrayals in Tesco’s "Turkey every which way", created by Bartle Bogle  Hegarty; Coca-Cola Super Bowl ad "The wonder of us", from Wieden & Kennedy; and Toyota Aygo’s "Anything goes", by The & Partnership.

These ads were variously described by the panel as "disconnected", "saccharine" and "almost offensive".

Three ads were held up by the panel for their realistic portrayals, authentic feel and sense of meaningful inclusion by the reviewers.

They were McCain "We are family" by Adam & Eve/DDB; Apple "First dance" by TBWA\Sydney; and Rowse Honey "Three bears", by BMB.

The last of these was defended by Clements in a column after Campaign had named it turkey of the week.

Commenting on the results of the Creative Review, Clements said: "The trick to a great recipe is knowing your ingredients. Is your agency’s workforce diverse enough to create a campaign that demonstrates genuine understanding of the social group being represented? And can they use that knowledge to engender believability in the creative output? Is your brand talking and listening to the right people?"

Miles added: "We’ve certainly come a long way in the representation of LGBT+ people in advertising, but as our Creative Review showed there’s a huge distance still to go. Let’s stop clumsily chucking in token gays and actually stop to consider these characters as real people and equal members of society."

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