What once started as 500 activists gathered in Hyde Park equipped with a sound system in 1978 in an effort to promote gay and lesbian culture, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras has become an extensive celebration of love across the city centre. Over more recent years, brands have become a driving force behind the celebration with branded floats, activations, and digital campaigns.
Sense took a look back over the years to find some of the most fabulous brand initiatives of Mardi Gras…
ANZ have established themselves as a well-known Mardi Gras supporting by continuing to activate their brand in the name of love. Each year, ANZ unveils a glamorous, eccentric ATM design in celebration of Mardi Gras… but they don’t stop there.
In 2019, ANZ hi-jacked Oxford St signs across Australia for their campaign, Signs of Love. The campaign raised awareness for Mardi Gras by bringing a bit of colour and energy to areas that may not be able to access the festivities with bedazzled street signs.
The well known hook-up and dating app, Tinder tapped into the Mardi Gras magic in 2018. Tinder partnered with the festival to exhibit a float drenched in colour and host an interactive space to help punters make meaningful connections as a part of Fair Day.
Tinder has continued to invest in the value of brand experience over the years, continuing to adapt their product to other festival environments.
Airbnb are well-known for their marketing initiatives across digital and experiential campaigns. Mardi Gras is no exception.
The Big Gay Stay was launched by Airbnb to bring awareness to the company’s diverse, inclusive culture. It was a portable home by Airbnb that gave one lucky couple the chance to stay in the accommodation the night before it was included in the Mardi Gras parade where it would pour out neon lights and lightly christen the crowd with glitter.
Even the luxury car brand, Jaguar made its debut at the 2019 Mardi Gras. It was a risky move given just two years prior Holden received major online backlash for coming forward as the first automotive company to support Mardi Gras.
Unlike Holden, Jaguar was received with a warm welcome in the LGBTQI+ community as it took a more empathetic approach with it’s activation. Not only was the company the principal partner of the Queer Screen’s 26th Mardi Gras Film Festival, they hosted the Jaguar Jag Queen Service Centre which saw a lineup of brand partners and activities draw in thousands of visitors.
Ben & Jerry’s
Ben & Jerry’s really put their skin in the game with their political campaign during Mardi Gras. In 2015, Ben & Jerry’s installed an #EqualityCalling phone box that allowed marriage equality supporters to record messages that would automatically be sent to their federal representatives and be highlighted on social media.
The activation was just one part in the ice cream manufacturers ongoing campaign “Say I DOugh” that worked in partnership with Australian Marriage Equality.
Of course we can’t go past the iconic Coca-Cola. A tradition has been made out of the Coca-Cola billboard, a landmark of King’s Cross, where each year, the display dons a new look to celebrate Mardi Gras. Coca-Cola was well received in 2019 when the sign delivered the message “Welcome to Queen’s Cross”.