A few days ago, I ran across one article about McDonalds in Taiwan having just made a PR campaign about one gay son coming out to his dad in a McDonald restaurant. This video went viral probably not because of the coffee, or the slogan, but the so-called issue in Asian countries today – LGBT community (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) Main thing is Taiwan is an Asian country, where LGBT issue has not been fully accepted. It is even objected by many people because of their culture and religious belief. And this raised a question in my head about whether or not a brand should do a PR campaign with sensitive local issues like LGBT issue as the material?
There was one article on PRWeek about the fact that many brands are more comfortable using LGBT people in their campaigns nowadays. Kerri Allen, head of multicultural company Cohn and Wolfe has said that brands are getting more comfortable featuring gay and lesbian in their campaign. General Motor’s broadcast, lifestyle, and LGBT communications manager Joe LaMuraglia also believes that many brands would move to this direction. This article also featured some interviews with many people working in the PR and Marketing fields, all of whom were having a really positive belief in the future when diversity is not just about the race, but also about the sexuality also.
However, that is a story in America. In Asian in general and Taiwan in particular, it is not that easy at first. Needless to say, this video went viral with 1.1 million views on YouTube and 3.5 million on Facebook. But having this high rating does not mean that it did not occur some conflicts in society, especially some pushback from religious groups (Doland, 2016) These groups even called out to the customers to boycott the brand for putting this issue in their Ad. Chang Shou Yi, the secretary of the Alliance of Taiwan Religious Groups for the Protection of Family said in an interview with the press about this “Because McDonald’s is frequented by many children, it is especially important to oppose the promotion of same-sex behavior”. He also mentioned that the group “rebukes and boycotts all enterprises that are polluting the next generation.”
Even though Taiwan is one of a few Asian countries where nearly accept LGBT community as a part of their society, but legalizing same-sex marriage is “not yet a reality”, even though this issue is being supported by the presumptive new president, Ms.Tsai Ing Wen, who directly said “Everyone is equal before love”.
After posting on YouTube, the video has got a huge number of supports from social media but this is still considered to be the risky move of McDonald in their Taiwanese market.
So in order to find the answer to my question whether a brand should use LGBT as the way to approach their target customers, I think it depends a lot on the brand’s “gut” or should I say…”bravery”. This is a 50/50 gamble that they are playing, especially in the part of the world where LGBT is still considered the whole society’s “face” not a personal choice, and there is no way we can predict the society’s reaction to the campaign, even though we did some surveys prior.
But for me, if I was asked whether I am for or against LGBT image in PR campaigns…“Why wait? You’ve been waiting long enough!” is my answer.
You’ve been waiting long enough.