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Tuesday 18 Feb 2020

Mardi Gras 2020 officially began on Sunday with the annual Fair Day celebrations getting us well into the spirit of all things queer. As such, we put together six initiatives brands can do outside of the Mardi Gras / Pride festivities to be good brand allies in: How To: Branding & Pride

the history

Since the 78ers bravely protested LGBT rights on 24 June 1978, Sydney has hosted more than 40 years of events, with the 2019 event bringing more than 500,000 people into the city making the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras its fourth largest annual event (only surpassed by NYE, Vivid and Sydney Lunar Festival).

First recognising Mardi Gras as a major festival in 2008, the City of Sydney provided $120,000 in sponsorship in recognition of its significance as a hallmark event and positive impact on the NSW economy. So, what did this mean for brands?

The commercial potential through Mardi Gras is huge. The parade itself is broadcast live around the country as well as televised internationally. If you want to reach a large amount of people throughout February & March every year, this is it.

brand ethics

From an ethical, moral, responsibility and accountability perspective, Mardi Gras sponsors are typically vetted to ensure they meet certain criteria (see and to ensure they are continuing to rally behind the LGBTQI community outside the Mardi Gras season. For brands who aren’t official sponsors, there is no such vetting. This has caused mixed feelings about corporate sponsors and Mardi Gras from within the LGBTQI community. On one hand they provide revenue to continue the events. On the other hand, how authentic are these companies being to support LGBTQI rights? Are they simply seeing this as an opportunity to reach large, diverse groups? Is this just another “topical, trendy” space to dominate? Or do they genuinely advocate for our community using their status and resources on hand, continuously?

If you’re a big, small, medium, one-person, multinational, red, orange, purple or anything business who is currently aligning your brand with Mardi Gras 2020, we’ve put together six helpful tips on how you can continue this support to our community year-round. If you’re a business who isn’t currently marketing your business around such theme, these are still really helpful ways you can support the LGBTQI community.

HOW TO: Branding & Pride

Employ more LGBTQI people in senior leadership positions

Much like all other forms of diversity and inclusion in the workplace (gender, race/ethnicity, disability/ability + more), gender identity and sexual orientation form a big part of the total inclusion puzzle. One of the biggest ways you can support your employees is by providing equal opportunities. We want that 21-year-old newly out, freshly graduated from Uni junior marketing exec to know that if they want to work towards a seat at the table, it’s theirs.

Provide safe spaces or support groups

LGBTQI staff can sometimes feel voiceless or alone. Providing a safe, inclusive and welcoming environment to members of your team can encourage better performance, heighten team morale, increase staff retention and most of all show that you care. 
Be a business that cares.

Support local community advocacy groups

No matter where your business is located, I promise you, there’s at least one LGBTQI support organisation or advocacy group. These networks specialise in methods and practices to better support LGBTQI people in the wider community be it in sporting groups, community events or community services. Support them.

Make a stand

Being the first within a sector or community to stand up for equality can seem daunting but will pay off. Even if you believe no one is openly out within your business, reassuring everyone they would be accepted is crucial to current and future workforces.

Wear colours with pride

The most noticeable way we see brands supporting Mardi Gras is with the pride flag. Don’t just wait for Mardi Gras to show you’re proud. Tweak your logo, update your website, show your pride year-round.

Support the T in LGBT

The T stands for transgender and often has nothing to do with sexuality yet many think it does. Transgender people regularly face invasive questions, hurtful rumours and hateful discrimination. Supporting transgender people within your business is vital.

the end!

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How To: Branding & Pride is an opinion piece with research pulled from various sources. We are not affiliated with the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras by anything more than marching in the parade as our fabulous self – Lara Chrystal, Matchstick Marketing

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