Verizon pauses Pride campaign to support Black Lives Matter movement
Verizon is putting its latest Pride campaign on hold as protests following the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer continue across the country, the company told Ad Age.
The wireless carrier initially planned to launch its Pride campaign Monday, June 1. That changed, however, when Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg instead opted to have the company focus on the Black Lives Matter movement by donating $10 million to various social justice organizations, such as the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and the National Urban League.
“Verizon’s mission is to move the world forward and you can’t do that unless you are bringing everyone with you,” Andrew McKechnie, chief creative officer at Verizon, told Ad Age. “This includes all races, backgrounds and, of course, the LGBTQ+ community.”
McKechnie adds that Verizon “made the decision to temporarily pause the launch of our annual Pride Month campaign to give our platforms over to our black colleagues and community.”
Verizon’s move underscores the ongoing hurdles brands have faced with their marketing efforts this year. Many companies, for instance, paused their ad campaigns to adjust creative in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The ongoing protests, however, gives brands yet another reason to stop and rethink strategy.
Given social distancing guidelines, Verizon says it will focus on “connections” within the LGBTQ+ community for this year’s campaign, though the company declined to share specifics.
Verizon’s decision was also likely encouraged by longtime partners such as Parents and Friends of Lesibans and Gays, or PFLAG, who have also come out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement by pausing their own efforts during Pride Month, the company says.
Brands have historically celebrated Pride Month in June as a nod to the 1969 Stonewall Riots in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. Verizon still intends to press forward with its campaign, though the question of timing remains within the company. Next week, for example, cities across the country will hold memorial services following Floyd’s death. And circumstances can also change quickly, given the escalation of violence surrounding some of the protests.
Verizon has historically been very active during Pride Month. Last year, for instance, it released a short film where viewers could see family members adjusting to their loved ones coming out. It also promotes content supporting the LGBTQ+ community through its various media properties, such as the Huffington Post and Yahoo News.