What to do when a global pandemic risks to wipe out all the Pride celebrations (and, indeed, it almost does)? You ask for help to one of the best inventions of the decade: AR filters.
Artists in the LGBTQ+ community and beyond have been using AR lenses on social media to express themselves and their creative spirit, and this year's pandemic was a priceless opportunity to call on those artists to help the Pride celebrations go forward. And so Antony Eagle, creative at AMV BBDO, and Claire Gordon-Webster, former copywriter at AMV BBDO and now working freelance, had the idea to move the Pride Month to augmented reality on Snapchat.
This week we are getting Behind the Idea of the Pride Festival in your back y[AR]d to learn more about the resilience of the LGBTQ+ community – especially in COVID times.
What was the brief?
Claire: There wasn't a brief really - more like a global pandemic. At the beginning of lockdown here in London, Ant called me, concerned that social distancing measures would mean that many Pride celebrations were cancelled. He was right and we watched as Pride events, matches, parties and celebrations around the world were postponed or cancelled.
This distressed us and we put our heads together to find innovative ways to celebrate the LGBT+ community and help them still feel connected to one another during these super strange times. Our first activation was Sticking with Pride, a range of 180+ GIPHY stickers. It was in collaboration with GSN (Gay Star News) and their long running Digital Pride campaign, helping people augment their own pride content, just as one might collect badges and stickers at a Pride event.
From there we wanted to find a more immersive, virtual way to bring the magic of Pride festival floats into the communities' homes. Hence, The Pride Festival in your back y[AR]d was developed in collaboration with some of Snapchat's official lens creators (OLCs).
How did the initial pitch/brainstorming phase go?
Claire: Ant and I have been long standing fans of Snapchat's OLCs - they are really pushing the boundaries of art and virtual/3D/AR capabilities. Official Lens Creators can sound a little dry when describing these AR sculptors. We've been watching the OLC community and have been keen to work with them for a while now, so the Digital Pride [AR] Festival Floats was a natural fit. Then it was more a question of empowering the OLC's to bring their own flair and fun to the floats. We got to sit back and watch!
Tell us more about the concept. Why was it the right choice?
Claire: The LGBT+ community has been doing some amazing things to stay connected with one another during this time, from Coronavirus cabaret to live streamed drag shows. Our hope is that the more immersive element of our floats, thanks to Snapchat's AR capabilities, will be a brilliant addition to these online experiences - fully bringing the magic of a live Pride parade home.
What was the production process like? How long did it take, and what was the biggest challenge?
Ant: The entire project has been truly collaborative from inception to final creation. Claire and I wanted to ensure we involved the LGBT+ community and Allies to make the project a real collaboration of creativity. It was great to work with an international team developing the project all over the world. From start to finish the project took two months to develop with one or two minor timing issues along the way (COVID and time zones) but overall it feels like a great example of how a team can work digitally/remotely to make some magic happen.
What’s the main message of the campaign and why does it matter?
Ant: The main messages are inclusion and celebration. Pride across the world is the time the LGBT+ community comes together in support and love for one another. Our A.R Floats aim to celebrate that connection, giving users the ability to join and share in Pride 2020 - a time when so many are feeling isolated, alone and underrepresented.
Why will the final assets resonate with consumers?
Ant: The LGBT+ community is an expressive community and loves sharing creativity, whether that be a new outfit, make up or a symbol to show their alliance or support of a certain group of the community. Our floats not only allow them to interact and feel part of Digital Pride but also express themselves through the face lens, and share it all with others.
What is one unique fact about the campaign that will help it cut through?
Claire: One of our OLCs, Joshua Kearney, was inspired to create a personal piece from the assets for his float. He told us that he uses his art and AR innovations to explore his own identity, saying "I think exploring and creating these hyper-real glossy scenes and working with Neptune [his alter ego] have helped me feel more like myself - which is a result of creating CG art and using AR.”
I think it is really exciting for artists to be able to explore their identity through their AR art pieces, which their audience can fully be immersed in (rather than standing back and viewing a piece as with more traditional art forms). It is potentially very powerful.
What do you hope it achieves for the brand?
Claire: We hope this is just the beginning of a long running relationship between GSN, Snapchat and us as creatives. If this was phase one, we hope to make the floats bigger and better next year, getting even more brilliant OLC's involved. Perhaps brands will get involved too. It was a powerful move from Barclays to become an official sponsor of London Pride back in 2014 – imagine if brands engaged in this new, digital space, sponsoring floats and helping amplify the creative and reach.
How satisfying is it to see it out there after so much hard work?
Claire: It's a wonderful (slightly surreal) feeling. To be able to play with the floats, placing them in our own spaces, is awesome. Working during Covid, trying to run a creative collaborative process via email and various video calls and different time zones, could be frustrating and tedious at times (I think we all know this pain well by now), but to have the commitment and excitement of our various OLCs and then to see these weird and wonderful floats come to life... It was so very worth it.