Most brands celebrated Pride Month this past June in some fashion, but once July rolled around, they took down their rainbow banners and social media filters and went back to business as usual - except for Barefoot Wine, a longtime supporter of the LGBTQ community.
It all started back in 1988 when the E & J Gallo Winery brand donated and partnered with the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus.
"We have been an ally to the community for over 30 years," said Anna Bell, VP of marketing for Barefoot. "It’s a foundational part of who the brand is."
She added: "For us it’s about values and trying to show up as a brand authentically and inclusively in the public but also internally with our employee base. Authentic to us means being an actual ally of to the community."
Barefoot, which consistently receives a 100 on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index, launched a content series two years ago for the LGBTQ community called "One Stride, Many Journeys." The series is kept fresh with new videos, including recent personal coming out stories from Laverne Cox, Wilson Cruz, Candis Cayne and Raymond Braun. Barefoot mainly works with MWW and Frank Collective on its creative efforts.
Bell said it’s very important for Barefoot to get the right message out to LGBTQ consumers and engage the audience in relevant ways rather than "starting at a place of placating or putting a stamp out as a brand that says ‘We’re here too.’"
The brand’s own "diverse and representative team" helps the brand better understand the community, along with consumer-first research and focus groups, added Bell.
Barefoot hosted World Pride in New York City this year, which included a digital activation that allowed consumers to create their own wine labels with compliments for other people. The brand donated $1 to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AID for every "Bestie Label" created.
As a teaser, Bell said Barefoot is in the middle of working on a new, fun piece of content for the community that will come out soon.
For those brands looking to engage the LGBTQ community for the first time or more authentically, Bell advises starting "from a place of truth" and "really do your research."
"Start small," she said. "Seed your brand in a small group and learn before you go out and feel like you have the right to be there. You need to earn that right - and that doesn’t matter if it’s the LGBTQ community or any other community."