The global LGBTQ community has undoubtedly made great progress over the past 50 years. Same-sex marriage is now legal in many countries around the world, and the number of proudly, openly gay celebrities continues to grow.
Despite these strides, however, LGBTQ individuals remain under threat in democratic and autocratic nations alike. Just this week, President Trump announced that he would ban all transgender people from serving in the U.S. military while the Department of Justice filed a court brief arguing that the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not protect employees from discrimination based on their sexual orientation.
Today also happens to be the 50th anniversary of an amendment to the U.K.’s Sexual Offences Act that officially decriminalized homosexuality in England and Wales.
Absolut marked the occasion with a bold print campaign, “Kiss With Pride,” that celebrates the gay community’s freedoms and reminds all viewers that we, as a global community, still have a long way to go.
In fact, same-sex activity of any kind remains illegal in 72 countries and is punishable by death in eight, noted Ruth Hunt, chief executive at LGBTQ rights organization Stonewall, which collaborated with the brand to launch a #KissWithPride Snapchat lens. (Every use of the new lens results in a 1-pound donation to Stonewall.) That several of the unnamed individuals featured in the posters, shot by noted celebrity photographer Sam Bradley, hail from regions where a mere kiss could result in jail time makes the images all the more striking.
This is the second LGBTQ-focused campaign in recent weeks from Absolut and its creative agency of record, BBH London, whose first campaign, “Equal Love,” synced up with the London Pride festival. A launch event this week that took place at the houses of Parliament showcased the work itself and featured impassioned speeches from an array of activists.
“I was drawn to the ‘Kiss With Pride’ campaign because the idea was so pure,” said Bradley in a statement. “I knew I had to be involved. It’s quite rare for advertising to be for a cause without it feeling disingenuous. This felt absolutely natural and true.” The photographer added that he hopes his images reach audiences outside the progressive “bubble” of cities like New York and London in order to “start a constructive conversation.”
Parent company Pernod Ricard’s U.K. head of marketing Adam Boita added, “As a brand, we have a long history of working collaboratively with the LGTBQ community. … The fact that millions of people around the world still aren’t free to love who they choose goes against everything Absolut stands for, so the ‘Kiss With Pride’ campaign is something we’re extremely proud of.”
BBH London executive creative director Ian Heartfield said his agency’s two recent Absolut campaigns are “designed to help change minds in a positive, constructive, celebratory way.”
The work will run in print and digital out-of-home form, with print placements appearing in several prominent U.K.-based news and lifestyle publications.
Agency: BBH London
Campaign: “Kiss with Pride”
Global Brand Director: Gaia Gilardini
Global Marketing Manager: Sina Neubrandt
Global Brand Manager: Oscar Danielsson
Head of Marketing: Adam Boita
Senior Brand Manager: Jenny King
Photographer: Sam Bradley
Creative Director/Art Director: Vinny Olimpio
Creative Directors: Pablo Gonzalez de la Pena, Paco Conde, Beto Fernandez
Executive Creative Director: Ian Heartfield
Strategist: Raphael Bittner
Strategy Director: Melanie Arrow
Business Lead: Kate Roberts
Senior Account Manager: Aymara Blanco
Account Executive: Janki Shah
Producer: Lauren Daniels
Assistant Producer: Mercedes Januszczak