The Gay Sweater
By Jason Gieselman
The Gay Sweater was a campaign put on by the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity (CCGSD). The CCGSD is a non-profit organization who works to combat bullying and discrimination towards the gay youth. They had a small budget but wanted to make a big impact because they believe their messages are particularly important in today’s societal climate. Their strategy was to build as much earned media as they could by coming up with owned content that would be out of the box and resonate with millennials both gay and straight.
After conducting research they realized there was a great divide between how gay people were perceived by straight people. Some straight people were completely homophobic, some were ambivalent, and some were sympathetic but not advocates for the LGBT community. The CCGSD decided they would focus their campaign on changing the way people use the word “gay.” They noticed that people who fell into each of these categories would call things such as movies or shoes gay and that the word had taken on a negative and degrading meaning. They set out to make a sweater made of gay individuals’ hair and to make something that actually is gay without bearing shame.
They wanted to catch the eyes of social media influencers to help their message reach the masses and hoped that because they had a powerful message and creative campaign that this would gain traction on social media. They also produced short documentaries that they placed on YouTube and linked back to their website. The campaign was a huge success as the founder of the CCGSD said he had received “more interviews in 3 days than in the past 10 years” after the campaign launched.