Friday, March 29, 2013

Good, Bad, & Ugly Of Marketing Marriage

Personal opinion aside, the marriage debate has been fascinating from a marketing perspective. No matter what the Supreme Court rules most agree marriage equality will eventual be the law of the land. How did opinion turn so quickly when even 10 years ago it seemed the US was decades away from even being this far?

Let's look at some keys to great messaging on the Equality side:

  • Powerful Wording
    • Human Rights Campaign: Gays-United wouldn't have worked but humanizing the otherness of LGBTs did.
    • Equality: Gay-marriage can be off-putting to some, but who can be against Equality?
  • Great Logo: [ = ] Could it get any simpler, yet clear?
  • Viralizing: In addition to the great logo, their social media strategy made it easy and cool to take a stand with over 2.7M on Facebook users alone switching their avatar over.
  • Rights Angle:
    • Celebrities: The helpfulness of making this an equality campaign is that people who are not LGBT still feel they are fighting for a civil rights issue. And where there is attention, warm-fuzzies, and cool t-shirts to be had you'll find celebrities. 
    • Politics: If there is a vote to be had, you'll find politicians. The changing demographics explains why many who were hesitant to take a stand prior are now ok coming out (so to speak). Young people see sexuality as a non-issue-- they all have friends, family, and coworkers who they like and are out. 
  • Will and Grace-ifying: Before the TV show Will and Grace there were gay characters but they were the secondary characters or the silly ones. Will and Grace was a good, quality, entertaining show that made everyone feel they had a gay friend.

Where Traditionalists failed:

  • Weak Wording: Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. That's the best they can come up with?  Plus no cute logo? Now-a-days you need a visual people!
  • Outdated Sourcing: The Bible does have some references that might allow someone to use it as justification to deny marriage equality but this same source also condemns: shellfish, touching pigskins, mixing fabrics, planting restrictions; not to mention awfully pro-slavery. When someones' source of justification is a couple of thousand years old it losses some of its punch.
  • Bad spokespeople: There are few sane, non-hostile, well-respected people that can really speak credibly on denying others the same rights as they have. And more are evolving on the topic every day.
  • Over-reaching: Few deny that all couple deserve basic legal protections for their partners and families. This could have been accomplished pre-DOMA had the opponents bent on Civil-Unions. But when they would not even consider this as an option, they forced gay rights advocates into a corner and they had no choice but to go full on. Most who opposed would gladly give Civil Unions a chance now but today it's too little too late. 
The ship is pulling away from port on marriage equality so I think the most Traditionalists can hope for is a distinction that makes them feel they have been heard and respected. I suggest they claim Holy Matrimony as their new definition of marriage. This keep God and churchiness in while still upholding the separateness they are so attached to. I even bet if the Holy Marriage advocates ask nicely the HRC would give them the name of their awesome PR and marketing firms. The gays are nice that way :)