June is about to come to a close and as calendars turn to July, rainbow flags will be replaced by stars and stripes in the U.S. and people will be throwing much less glitter than they will backyard barbecues. Another Pride in the books. I spent some time this month wondering why Pride still matters. More than that, should it matter – or matter as much – as the raging debates on trade tariffs, school safety, political civility, or borders and barricades? Beyond individuals, should Pride still matter to brands? To companies? To the clients we serve?
I’ll admit I was having a harder time this month going full Gaga than I was fully gagging on the question of Pride’s purpose.
Then something happened in a place that’s very special to me – Asbury Park, New Jersey, where my husband and I have a home. Bruce Springsteen’s “City of Ruins,” now a thriving, electric beach town that prides itself on inclusivity and welcomes the weird and wonderful. On Sunday afternoon, June 24 – while the very proud, and those proud to support them – marched in the streets of New York and St. Louis, and Oklahoma City and Cincinnati and Dublin and Barcelona and others, a festival began in Asbury just a few hundred yards from the sand. Billed “The Festival of Life,” it was designed to only celebrate a certain kind of life – and admonish others, including the town’s LGBTQ citizens. The town was in an uproar. Signs were painted, t-shirts donned and an anti-festival took shape, located directly across the street.
Both sides played music that inspired them. Both sides carried signs that argued their side of the debate. Both sides hired security, because both sides were afraid of the other. Both sides believed enough in their own experiences and points of view that they showed up, ready to spend a Sunday after taking sides. On the surface, these two groups were wildly different. But scratch beneath the spray paint, and all they wanted was to matter.
And there was my answer. This month can serve as more than just a moment to celebrate and galvanize the LGBTQ community. It can be a reminder to everyone that all anyone wants to do is matter. Each of those two groups of passionate voices in Asbury Park matters, and so does their right to raise them in peaceful discourse. Pride does still matter, and I end this month reminded by its potential, filled with new hope…
For companies and brands – including our great clients – I hope this month was a reminder that it’s possible to connect in a meaningful way with consumers, investors and other audiences when you lead with empathy – finding ways to make them know they matter to you, through the channels and with the voices that matter to them.
For our unbeatable colleagues around the Ketchum global network, I hope this month was a reminder that you matter, to your clients, your teams, your leaders, and the many communities in which you thrive and grow in the agency. You matter because in this agency, it’s not just enough to be a force. You need to be a force for good.
For me, it was a reminder to be clearer with people about why they matter. To invite different perspectives and welcome the weird and the wonderful right here at this agency – to ultimately make our work stronger, more informed.
So, onward – but not just until next June. In fact, we’ve got 11 months of runway to make it matter.