How using QR Codes for Pride Month Impacts Your Campaign

It’s that time of the year when the world gets more colorful, the Pride flags are waved higher, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQIA+) folk get louder  — and dare we say, prouder. Change your campaign ads from monochromatic tones to kaleidoscopic rainbows — because this month, we’re celebrating Pride!

Need a marketing agent to amplify your reach? Try a QR Code marketing strategy to polish up your next Pride campaign and attract more allies to support the LGBTQIA+ community. 

In this article, we’ll touch on the history of Pride, what to avoid when strategizing for your next Pride campaign, and gush over campaigns that used an ingenious QR Code solution  —  all to inspire you to create a meaningful campaign that amplifies the voices from the LGBTQIA+ community.
Moving beyond the binary of black and white squares, QR Codes Pride campaigns calls for an embrace of a multicolored rainbow. Ready to put some color in your QR Code campaign?

What is Pride Month?

The rainbows and coordinated color displays may be our first point of reference for Pride, but don’t let the colorful arrays overshadow the purpose of why we commemorate Pride. Pride Month is an annual celebration uplifting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual culture — supporting their rights, activism, and humanity.

History of Pride Month 

It all started on June 28, 1969. It was one of those regular nights at the Stonewall Inn when the police, once again started raiding the New York City gay bar. This time though, patrons and neighborhood residents, tired of the relentless police harassment, fought back. 
What began as a police raid, escalated into consecutive days of protesting. This is cemented in history as the Stonewall Riots — a turning point for the Gay Liberation Movement. A year later was the first Pride march, marking the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising.

Pride flags hovering above a brick-style building with a black door and red-neon signage named “Stonewall Inn”  bar.
The Stonewall Inn still standing and waving Pride flags high. Source: Twitter

Rules of thumb for Pride Month Campaigns: 

It’s commonplace for companies to only show their support for the queer community during the month of Pride. But, there are clear ways to avoid this. Here are a couple of pointers to keep in mind when you’re strategizing for your campaign. 

  • Stay clear of rainbow washing — this describes how businesses capitalize on the Pride symbol — the rainbow in an attempt to show performative support for the LGBTQIA+ community without lifting a finger to support the marginalized community in a tangible way.  
  • Give the stage to queer influencers and leaders — if you genuinely want to use your platform to lend support to the movement, put the spotlight on someone who can be a spokesperson for your campaign. 
  • Don’t just focus on the month of Pride — it’s not enough to be a Pride Month ally. Consumers are wide awake to performative support. All year round, brands have the opportunity to create sustainable change by creating a culture of inclusion and belonging for queer people within their work organizations and in their campaigns. Authentic allyship begins within.  
  • Join forces with LGBTQIA+ non-profits  — Trevor Project, GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), and GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network), to name a few. 
  • Employ QR Codes for Pride campaigns — by implementing square grids in your campaign, you’ll benefit from QR Code tracking when you use a Dynamic QR Code — and create seamless offline to online experiences for your audience. 

How to use QR Codes for Pride Month  

These campaigns knocked it out of the park. They showed genuine allyship, amplified the voices of the LGBTQIA+ community, and created impactful marketing campaigns — without the fluff. Take a squizz at these campaigns and model how they pulled it off. These campaigns capture the heart of Pride.

#1 H&M’s “Beyond the Rainbow” campaign 

“Beyond the Rainbow” is a global campaign that ran from June to September 2021. It’s centered around narrating personal stories from different voices within the LGBTQIA+ global community

You’ll hear individual narratives from a diverse group — influencers activists, artists, singers, and actors, including in-house H&M employees, why their stories matter, and how amplifying voices within this global community invites others to live a little prouder and authentically. 

Part of the campaign’s success lends itself to how they go beyond the rainbow hues — getting to the heart of it by humanizing the universal yet unique LGBTQIA+ experience. A diverse set of voices sets it apart, which is what the flag is all about.  

And while we access these stories through vibrant rainbows, it’s merely just an entry point. It functions quite similarly to scanning a QR Code, but instead of scanning pixelated patterns, you’re scanning rainbows via the H&M’s web app. 

Once users scan the rainbow, they are directed to the “Beyond the Rainbow” landing page, giving them access to hearing stories from a diverse range of LGBTQIA+ folk from all across the world. As a call-to-action (CTA), users are encouraged to use Instagram filters to share their own Pride stories on social media. 

Why we love this campaign

Tech opens up a universe of possibilities enabling us to engage with different voices and poignant stories of people from the LGBTQIA+ community across the world. 

What could elevate this campaign:
We only wish QR Codes would have been used in this campaign. A Dynamic URL QR Code or an App QR Code would have opened up a rainbow of possibilities: either leading the user to a landing page or Google Play, Apple Store, or Amazon Appstore.

A rainbow flag hanging on the burglar bars of a wide window on a building with a text that reads “Scan any rainbow to see the stories beyond.”
H & M’s web app gives users access to hearing individual queer stories from all across the globe. Source: YouTube

#2 Skittles’ QR Codes for Pride

For the last 2 years, Skittles has made a bold statement on its candy packaging to show its solidarity with the queer community during Pride month. Their Pride packs transformed from bright-colored rainbows into a dimmed down colorless grey packet with a rainbow out of sight — all to celebrate the only rainbow that matters. 

Skittles partnered with GLAAD to raise $100,000 to uphold their support for the LGBTQIA+ community — and lent the spotlight to Blair Imani, a historian, author, educator, influencer, and community leader for the queer community. 

They also launched a program called QueeR Codes (you heard right) during Pride Month and joined forces with 4 LGBTQIA+ artists to create Pride Month artwork (murals) that represent how they see the rainbow. And there’s a catch, too: each mural has a QueeR Code that links you to content and stories from queer folk. 

This year, Skittles took it up a notch to feature 6 LGBTQIA+ artists on their packaging. When you scan these QR Codes for Pride, you’ll discover a whole new world: an Augmented Reality (AR)-empowered experience! 

Once you scan the QR Code,  you’ll enter a virtual world, find a virtual Skittles packet with a drop-down menu with buttons that you won’t be able to resist — allowing you to play around (and download) wallpapers, get to know the artists, and it also presents the option to “learn more”. This irresistible button launches you onto the Walmart website where you can find out more about the campaign. Try it out, if you feel so inclined.  

Why we’re cheering on Skittles’ Pride campaign 2 years in a row: 

What’s not to love? Both campaigns direct the focus away from the rainbow to LGBTQIA+ artists and the community as a whole. They raise awareness and put a spotlight on engagement, learning, and support for these marginalized communities. 
We’re particularly impressed by how they used QR Codes to open up AR experiences. In short, bravo, Skittles! Read more about how an AR QR Code optimizes the user experience and how the metaverse QR Code will change the way we engage with brands on our blog.

A grey backdrop with grey Skittles candy scattered around, with a rainbow-colored QR Code in the middle, and writing that reads “Queer Codes."
Skittles’ campaign from 2021 features QueeR Codes to honor LGBTQIA+ artists. Source: Twitter

#3 Target’s Take Pride Campaign 

In 2015, Target launched its first #TakePride campaign. Since then, despite the public backlash, they’ve demonstrated unceasing allyship towards the LGBTQIA+ community from the inside of their organization to their campaigns and Pride collections. 

In 2021, their collection had over 150 queer-inspired products from swimwear apparel to pool floaties — not only to increase queer visibility but to also affirm the message of love and inclusion. 

Moreover, their digital marketing campaign featured a young black queer author, Leah Johnson. Handing over the microphone to marginalized voices, and stories, which the author writes about, enhances queer representation and normalizes LGBTQIA+ storytelling.  

In addition, for Target’s 10th year up to date, they donated $100,000 to GLSEN, an organization dedicated to empowering LGBTQIA+ students, ensuring that they can grow in a safe, nurturing educational environment — free from harassment and discrimination. 

Among all the Pride merch on display in Target, colorful QR Codes also made an appearance to spread the spirit of Pride. This time, Snapchat’s version of QR Code, called the Snapcode lured users in. Once spotted among the racks of rainbow paraphernalia, customers were prompted by a CTA (call-to-action).

The Snapcode opened up an AR experience where users could see a burst of celebratory virtual confetti. After all, Pride is also a party. Users could share their festive Pride retail therapy experiences on Snapchat while encouraging others to celebrate Pride, too! 

What stands out about Target’s campaign: 

Target exhibits LGBTQIA+ visibility and encourages more queer folk to share their pride over Snapchat. The Snapcode is a fantastic way to boost customer engagement and experiences but they could have gone way further with the integration of QR Codes. 

What could be improved: 
Instead of just creating an in-store experience, they could have converted Leah Johnson’s story on YouTube into a Video QR Code. Placing this kind of code on their website, or even their digital signage in the stores would boost not only their video marketing but also customer engagement both in-store and online.

Target’s Pride collection in their store features clothing apparel and home decor with a dash of the Pride month colors.
Target’s #TakePride collection turns heads at their store, with a surprise AR appearance. Source: Twitter. And Tony Kadysewski of fixturescloseup.com.

#4 Retold with Pride campaign 

As much as we enjoy a non-fiction queer story, we appreciate the artistic value of a fictional story with a Pride twist. In line with their values to create safe spaces and representation for the LGBTQIA+ community, Globe (an organization committed to instilling universal sustainability principles) and Pride@Tech, a non-profit organization based in Manilla, Philippines, launched a new campaign “Retold with Pride”. 

Classic stories Dracula, The Great Gatsby, and Life of PI, just to name a few, have been retold as new queer tales and renamed the Dragula, The Great Gay, and Life of Bi. 

These reimagined stories depict the everyday realities that queer communities face while also touching on universal tropes that everyone can identify with — love, dating, and acceptance. 

The Retold with Pride collection of literature is also available on audiobook if you fancy an audible experience on Spotify, plus video representations of the book art you won’t want to miss on Instagram. 

The aim of the initiative isn’t only to increase the representation of people who have DGS (diverse genders and sexualities) in stories but to provide tangible support and care facilities to an elderly LGBT organization called the Golden Gays. You’ll find QR Codes on the Globe website where you can scan to donate to a worthy cause. 

What stands out about this campaign:

The creative reimagining of stories retold with LGBTQIA+ voices as well as their partnering with the Golden Gays is a campaign with a whole lot of heart. QR Codes make it easy to donate to the organization, without distracting us from the core messages of inclusion, diversity, and representation. 

What can be improved in this campaign:
To create more exposure and expand their donor reach for the campaign, we suggest placing their QR Codes for donations on all their social media platforms, from Instagram to Twitter. Creating a QR Code for donations is no biggie. Read our guide to get started right away!

Retold with Pride ad with book covers of Dragula, Ibong Adana, Romeo & Julian, and The Adventures of Sherla Holmes against a bright pink backdrop.
Retold with Pride stories’ ad features iconic stories with a queer flavor. Source:  Twitter

#5 The Anderson house project fundraising campaign 

You don’t have to be a brand to start a Pride campaign. Don’t believe us? Okay, storytime. A couple, now semi-famously known as the Anderson couple, turned their house into a donation station for the LQBTQIA+ community. 

They used their bare hands to build a giant rainbow paintbrush on the walkway of their house and painted a poignant message on the steps of their porch: “Don’t be afraid to show your true colors”. 

What initially started out as a display to show their solidarity with Pride, turned into a tourist attraction. Members of the community, blown away by the colorful array, started snapping photos of the house, which spread like wildfire. Long story short, the Anderson Pride display went viral. 

Soon after, people from other communities started visiting the couple’s home. Even the mayor of Chicago and along with his wife and other politicians paid them a visit. Once the couple realized how popular it was becoming, they installed a QR Code, allowing others to donate to the Trevor Project. 

The Trevor Project is a non-profit organization that empowers LGBTQIA+ youth, in an effort to prevent suicide. The Anderson couple’s initiative helped them to donate more than $17,000 in 2 weeks. Not for prestige, or publicity, but to create a safe inclusive neighborhood for everyone. 

Why we love this unexpected fundraising campaign: 

This idea came from a simple idea and blew up into a social media fundraising campaign. It shows just how impactful the rainbow is, and how you don’t have to be a brand to make a difference. Ordinary people can also create change for the  LGBTQIA+ community.

A paintbrush built on a two-story house extending from the balcony, along the pathway to the entrance of the walkway path.
The Anderson house’s pathway beaming with Pride Month colors. Source: Twitter
A giant QR Code in front of a two-story house that has a paintbrush with rainbow colors extending from the balcony to the pathway of the house.
An installed QR Code that enables victors to donate to the Trevor Project. Source: Twitter

It’s not just about using rainbows in your Pride campaign. It’s about the symbolism of the Pride flag — to educate, to inspire, to amplify queer voices, stories, and experiences. Using QR Codes for Pride Month will benefit your campaign from expanding your campaign reach to tracking your campaign’s performance. With the help of our handy pixelated squares, we’ll support you in creating the kind of campaign that beams with Pride.

Author
Robyn Albertyn

Robyn Albertyn is a content writer for Bitly from Cape Town, South Africa. She’s previously written about preventative health and wellness, and specializes in creative writing and copywriting. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her hiking up majestic mountains, or discovering the best coffee hotspots in her city. Feel free to say hi to her on LinkedIn.

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