Cannes Lions

Queer City

COURAGEOUS STUDIO, New York / PROCTER & GAMBLE / 2020

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Overview

Background

2019 marked the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprisings that ignited the modern LGBTQ+ equality movement, making NYC the epicenter of LGBTQ+ rights. To recognize the milestone, NYC played host to 5,000,000+ people celebrating World Pride.

Recently, brands have been criticized for “rainbow washing:” hollow sponsorships that align with more party-like Pride elements, but ignore the deeper human stories of triumph and struggle behind the celebration.

P&G is committed to the authentic portrayal of the LGBTQ+ community because these images impact how we see, talk and treat one another. As such, the brand wanted to illuminate the LGTBQ+ community’s historic and ongoing fight for equality.

Inspired by the LGBTQ+ community, P&G showcased voices from the Stonewall era, the HIV/AIDS epidemic era, and modern-day, sourcing over 300 cultural artifacts contributed by queer New Yorkers, to build a living out-of-home experience that would spark an impactful dialogue in NYC and beyond.

Idea

Building on P&G’s legacy of LGBTQ+ support, we partnered with CNN to create “Queer City,” a popup museum anchored in purposeful, powerful LGBTQ+ storytelling, tracing the lineage of Pride from the Stonewall uprising, through triumphs big-and-small in the 50 years since.

We recognized the importance of showcasing underrepresented voices because the LGBTQ+ experience is personal. Over 300 New Yorkers contributed personal artifacts to make a one-of-a-kind living experience representing Pride.

Beyond exploring the depth of the LGBTQ+ community, P&G also emphasized the importance of genuine corporate accountability, commissioning a short documentary (to be screened at the event) portraying the true stories of LGBTQ+ employees struggling to achieve equality at P&G HQ in the 1990s.

By combining 50 years worth of LGBTQ+ history and raising questions about corporate responsibility in the same space, “Queer City” would encourage honest conversation, deep reflection, and an enduring dialogue that would help shape the future.

Execution

We transformed a 5,000 square-foot space into a one-day museum for LGBTQ+ history. The goal: treat everyday objects like museum pieces, giving visitors a uniquely intimate look at NYC’s status as “Queer City.”

Each room represented one decade from the 1940s onward, filled with materials ranging from clothing and letters to videos and photos: priceless artifacts that showcase the inherent humanity of LGBTQ+ experiences. While technology in our exhibit was important, the most unique element for audiences would be the tangible, physical objects we displayed, and the Queer Voices invited to speak.

Custom logos and visitor materials adorned the rooms, while personal stories of struggle and support were available to hear on kiosks throughout the space. There were also repeated screenings of LGBTQ films by CNN, including a P&G documentary examining its own imperfect history.

The night ended with discussion panels featuring queer thought-leaders, plus a special live performance.

Outcome

During the “Queer City” event, thousands of people walked through the exhibition. Millions more interacted online.

86.3% of attendees surveyed rated “Queer City” as “Excellent,” the highest possible response. Moreover, 83% described the museum as “thought-provoking,” with 65% expressing that they “learned something new.” 74% of respondents described themselves as “extremely likely” to tell a friend about the exhibit, making good on P&G’s intent to spark a dialogue.

Videos produced for the event reached 11MM people and were watched 2.5MM times across Facebook and YouTube. Overall engagement rate was 92% and 69% of video comments were positive, suggesting the content resonated well beyond “Queer City.”

P&G had a 25% share of voice of conversations surrounding CNN’s 50th-anniversary coverage of the Stonewall Uprising and World Pride Parade. “Queer City” attracted national press coverage in LGBTQ-friendly titles.

Most importantly, P&G created a space where its LGBTQ consumers felt safe, respected, and seen.

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