GSK Consumer partners with Gay Times for LGBTQ+ inclusive ad campaigns

GlaxoSmithKline wanted to add diversity and inclusion to its ad campaigns in the U.K. this summer—but properly. Not with redundant rainbows or hashtag platitudes just during Pride Month, but with marketing that rang true.

The GSK Consumer Healthcare marketing team partnered with Gay Times Group to put a modern-day diverse spin on some of its product marketing. The first two brand campaigns—for Sensodyne and Voltarol—feature LGBTQ+ community members and stories in digital films with relevant product messages.

The Sensodyne campaign, for example, is an evolution of GSK’s original “Faces of Sensitivity” in which people with sensitive teeth grimace after biting into cold treats. The new “Ice Cold Faces” campaign features an all-LGBTQ+ cast eating frozen treats and showing their reactions, like drag queen Gingzilla shuddering after a sip of an icy cocktail.

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The initial campaigns kick off a broader diversity and inclusion advertising mission at GSK, said Louise Vincer, GSK Consumer’s digital and marketing acceleration director in Great Britain and Ireland.

“Our consumer healthcare products are for everybody. But if everybody doesn’t see themselves reflected in our brands, then we’re not opening the door to those people who could get a benefit from those products,” Vincer said.

The second campaign, for Voltarol pain reliever, focuses on sports and is called “Alternative Queer Hobbies.” It stars LGBTQ+ people sharing their love of outdoor sports such as cycling, boxing and rowing in a theme that dovetails with the Voltarol “joy of movement” tagline.

GTX, Gay Times Group's in-house production arm, created the work along with Publicis Media’s platformGSK. Gay Times owns the content but agreed to allow GSK to redistribute across it social media.

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“The drive for greater inclusivity and to be more representative to diverse audiences has been the directive from GSK, and it’s our mission to make sure we are carrying that out,” said Tom Wilkinson, head of content and strategy for platformGSK. “It’s smart business as well, but we clearly need to be more inclusive of those audiences that are just as important as any other.”

Vincer said internal GSK and public feedback have both been positive. She anticipates similar efforts across the company, including the pharmaceuticals division. The two businesses won't be under one roof forever, though; GSK announced earlier this year its two-year plan to spin off the consumer unit, already a joint venture with Pfizer, into a standalone business.