Flying the Rainbow Flag: How Much Credibility Can Companies Gain?

In conversation with Marc-Pierre Hoeft, former board member of the Hamburg Pride e.V. and CSD Deutschland e.V. associations as well as co-founder of the EHE FÜR ALLE initiative (marriage equality initiative).

PRIDE week in Berlin is one week under the rainbow symbol – meaning love, freedom, respect, peace and diversity.

The rainbow signifies the LGBTIQ* movement. In German-speaking countries, PRIDE is called CSD, an abbreviation for Christopher Street Day. Because that’s exactly where everything began 50 years ago. At the gay bar “Stonewall Inn” on Christopher Street in New York, members of the LGBTIQ* community rioted against arbitrary police assaults over a number of days and thus made a clear statement that to this day is of utmost importance worldwide. And it also encourages many who live in regions and countries in which it is not acceptable – or even legal – to be lesbian, gay, bi, trans* and inter or where one cannot openly live one’s gender identity or sexual orientation.

Therefore, demonstrations take place worldwide. Noisy and colourful ones: because that’s what it’s all about. Life is not black and white – and love in particular isn’t either. Next to Berlin, people in nearly 60 further German cities take to the streets for diversity and show their true colours. Amongst them also NGOs, political parties and companies. But how much credibility do these companies gain through the rainbow?

I have spoken to Marc-Pierre Hoeft, Unit Director at PIABO and former board member of various PRIDE organisations and have asked him, what is important to him and his team when designing a PRIDE campaign.


Dear Marc-Pierre, thank you for taking the time today to discuss with us the marketing hype “PRIDE”. Does PIABO also run PRIDE campaigns? 
I’m actually very happy that we are again implementing PRIDE campaigns this year. Already for the second year in a row, we are supporting Tinder in an LGBTIQ* project during the PRIDE month. And for the first time, we are working together with the Active Alliance Against Homophobia (Homophobie e.V.) that has initiated a joint influencer campaign with Unilever and the AXE (LYNX) brand.

What was particularly important during the campaign design?
Firstly, we ask ourselves: who are we trying to reach with our campaign and why? Especially in the PRIDE context, it has to concern the matter – and not sales and image. Otherwise, you soon fall under the suspicion of pink washing. One successful example for a campaign under the PRIDE heading: Tinder is aware of its responsibility towards its users and would like to say thank you during the PRIDE season. Last year, we were able to carry out a project explicitly aimed at the LGBTIQ* community – the Tinder Talk. But let’s stick to the year 2019. On the occasion of the CSD anniversary, we have kicked off a survey recently that is to educate as many people as possible about the PRIDE history. Instead of Acts of Parliament and legislative proposals, we have looked at other facts – authentic ones for Tinder: What changes have taken place in the last 50 years in the dating scene, and what can be drawn as an indication for the rights of the community? Or would you have known that lesbian and gay bars didn’t have windows – sometimes even up until the 1990s? According to the survey, three quarters (76 percent) of the respondents knew this. Many might think: when the lights are low, hearts are easily set aglow. But we also tell the true story behind this: (sexual) acts between same-sex couples were simply criminal – that’s why dating took place out of sight.

Did many ideas also stem from a personal motivation?
I wouldn’t want to deny this. In my role as press officer of the CSD Deutschland e.V. association, I have co-founded the marriage equality initiative EHE FÜR ALLE. Hard work pays off – together with many other participants in Germany, our campaign back then certainly contributed towards the success: marriage was opened to same-sex couples and is now protected by the constitution. The Active Alliance Against Homophobia is the co-initiator that we professionally support as PIABO this year: jointly with AXE (LYNX), projects in youth and education institutions that have diversity as their focus are to be made visible and awarded. This is not a matter of course. The same applies to the professional support of an NGO, since they often rely on unpaid volunteers. Today, this certainly is one other motivation for me to support such important projects.

Which components bring success to such campaigns? Does each campaign have to shine in rainbow colours?
The brand and campaign have to be authentic. Whether “Fridays for Future” or “PRIDE” – many people demand commitment. Also from brands. And sometimes it also requires a bit of courage, but it is no secret that courage is often rewarded. Even if that means that just one single person was reached or supported with a particular message. That’s because the matter is at the heart of the campaign. But of course we feel more successful the more people we reach. Afterall, this is PR – and during the PRIDE months it’s allowed to be a little bit more colourful.

As a volunteer, which misconceptions have you had to face about PRIDE and LGBTIQ*?
Again and again, I was astounded by what people – including friends of mine – did not know. “Same-sex marriage? That’s already allowed!” or “What? Gays aren’t allowed to donate blood?” Both were still the reality in Germany not too many years ago, and only few were aware of it. I was a second-class citizen – and I didn’t want to accept that. Not in the year 2019 – not in Germany – and actually not at all and not for anybody. Even today not all is well yet, and I believe that we can still educate, encourage and burst many a bubble with our work.

Thank you, Marc-Pierre, for sharing your insights. It was a pleasure talking to you!



Press contact:

Laura Schlensak
+49 30 2576205 – 40