On 24 June, 1978, the very first Mardi Gras parade of Australia was held in Sydney, NSW to commemorate the Stonewall Riots with 500 people in attendance. As homosexuality was a crime in NSW until 1984, 53 people were violently arrested, and their names leaked by The Sydney Morning Herald.
These protesters were outed to their families and workplaces, resulting in many losing their jobs and livelihoods. Many people were disowned from their families. It’s estimated that the Mardi Gras celebrations have led to $38m revenue for the NSW economy.
In early 1998, Tony Clews established the National Deaf TV project. As a deaf man, Tony was inspired by strides in the availability and quality of national television programmes for deaf people in the UK and Europe.
To this day, no mainstream broadcaster provides consistent support for the deaf or hard of hearing community, their family and friends, and other interested people.
On 26 May, 1998, the first Sorry Day was acknowledged in Australia. The incumbent Prime Minister, John Howard, refused to apologise for the government’s involvement in removal of First Nations people from their land and families.
Not until 13 February, 2008, did Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologise to the First Nations people for the Stolen Generation and government policies to assimilate these people into White Australian culture.
Today, most companies and brands in Australia do not have a reconciliation plan, a pathway to equity for First Nations people, or an acknowledgement of this land’s history. Many companies still don’t have policies on acceptance of people of different sex, genders, and sexualities. Many companies do not think of accessibility options for people living with disabilities, or have the ability to provide translators for deaf or hard of hearing people. There still isn’t widespread use of any First Nations language, and we often see government officials completely disregarding people based on their race.
The point of my history lesson; brands often forget about the cultural significance of the moments they are producing content or creative for. Yet the majority are willing to post on social media their support of the LGBTQIA+ community, align themselves with First Nations inspired creative to post about Sorry Day, or promote an inclusive hiring policy.
These are but three examples of branding culturally significant moments in Australia. The support of large corporations and enterprises adds pressure on our politicians and people in power to make change in our legislation, however support is only valuable when it’s all encompassing.
The best pathway for brands? Evaluate yourselves, and be tough. Do good first, and promote it only if you believe that within the context of the cause you have the validity to do so. Be as genuine as you can be. Heartfelt if possible. Emotional always. These are real moments of significance for audiences, not just a date in your content calendar.
If you are an employee, challenge your peers, leadership and yourself. No one is perfect, but everyone can be informed and willing to change.
Gorgia Brewer is the Content and Strategy Director at Resolve Content.