Even though LGBTQIA+ people make up 4.5 percent of the U.S. population, they don’t receive 4.5 percent of marketing budgets, ad spend or representation in ads. Take that and add it to the fact that nearly half (46 percent) of LGBTQIA workers remain in the closet at their professions – and 72 percent of LGBTQ+ individuals find queer ads to be tokenistic – and it’s more than clear that adland has a systemic problem.
That’s where Do the WeRQ comes in.
The new organization, movement and platform, which officially launches next week, is on a mission to: unite the LGBTQIA+ community across adland; increase queer creativity, representation and share of voice; and create tangible diversity and inclusion progress in the industry.
"The power of queer creativity to impact culture mirrors the power that queer creativity has to impact business. Until the promise of inclusion is fulfilled, across the industry, ideas are lost – and that means lost opportunities for business," stated Graham Nolan, co-chair of storytelling and partnerships at Do the WeRQ.
Nolan added: "It’s because of the challenges we face and the richness of creativity that have always defined our community that we have the ability, ideas and passion to make a difference. We have werq to do, and like Mariah advised in the 90s, we’re gonna make it happen."
On June 3, Do the WeRQ will kick off a month of video programming around innovative queer ideas that are still coming to life amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The content will highlight how the inclusion of LGBTQIA+ talent into creativity can help advance business.
Ira Madison III, writer and host of the "Keep It!" podcast, is Do the WeRQ’s first guest on June 3, with other episodes including the likes of Cossette Content Experience VP Chris Bergeron (she/her); Starcom EVP/Managing Director Kim Colweck; 4A's EVP of Talent, Equity & Inclusion Simon Fenwick; Strategist and Creator of ThemsHealth Nina Kossoff (they/she); HBO Director of Multicultural Marketing Blaise Preau; and Laundry Service Creative Director Sarah Sears.
According to Kate Wolff, co-chair of programming and operations at Do the WeRQ: "It’s time the industry caught up with culture. That’s why we are not only a programming series – we are a platform. We’re at the start of a movement. We will make positive change in challenging times – which is to say, now, and at all times."
"Inspired by the passion and innovation of our members, the organization has broader plans to help agencies and talent unite to ‘do the werq’ necessary for real inclusion versus rhetoric," stated Wolff. "Addressing a true need during trying times, we recognize that queer people in particular need help now. Connected with leading creators across marketing and culture, this marks an important beginning."
Wolff, who is the founder and CEO of Lupine Creative, has a rich history in the ad industry, having worked at Publicis Modem, DDB, TBWA\Chiat\Day, Omelet LA and RQ. Nolan, a communications consultant with 20 years of experience in brand strategy and comms leadership, has worked at agencies including Grey NY, Momentum Worldwide and Starcom.
Do the WeRQ welcomes professionals and freelancers of all levels across agencies, holding companies, brands, platforms and more to support the organization. So far, talent from Unbounded Agency, Publicis Media, Droga5, Grey, R/GA and George P. Johnson Experience Marketing, among others, are contributing to the movement at launch.