This year, Pride month in June saw a cavalcade of brands stepping up to support the LGBTQ+ community with merch, campaigns and events. It was the first time WorldPride had come to the United States and everyone wanted to get in on the action. In years past, brands seemed to have supported the issue only for the month. But this year, actress and activist Laverne Cox, best known for her role as Sophia Burset on Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black,” says she’s finally seeing brands step up and continue their support of the cause, even three months later.
“I’m seeing it continue with certain brands and that’s really exciting,” she says, speaking to Ad Age during Advertising Week. “I’m challenging you brands to keep it up. We want to see ourselves year-round.”
At Advertising Week, Cox joined Diageo Beer Company CMO Jay Sethi on stage for the panel “Can a brand truly be inclusive?” where the actress discussed her ongoing role in Smirnoff’s inclusive “Welcome Home” campaign, of which she’s been a part for more than a year. As part of the effort, Smirnoff is donating $1.5 million to the Human Rights Campaign by 2021, and the campaign features Cox in digital spots and attending events. In the panel, Cox announced her participation in Smirnoff’s upcoming holiday spots—an extension of its “Welcome Home” campaign—but she was light on the details.
But just because a campaign features a member of the LGBTQ+ community, doesn’t necessarily mean it will be commended, according to Cox. She says people who are members of the LGBTQ+ community should also be represented behind the camera and be part of the decision-making process. Otherwise, the product will be off.
“We’ve seen brands come under fire for various things and often the question is, well, who is making the decisions?” says Cox. “If you don’t have a diverse group of folks behind the scenes making the decisions, problematic things might happen.” Watch the video above for more from Cox.