Creative Campaigns

LGBT+ History Month: 3 groundbreaking campaigns from the ’80s and ’90s

15 . 02 . 24

Everywhere you look, from billboards to TV ads, the LGBTQIA+ community is out and proud. But it’s taken lots of hard work to make the world more inclusive for everyone, no matter who they love. 

In decades past it certainly wasn’t like that – same-sex marriage was not actively legislated for by most countries as recently as the early 2000s, and queer people faced intense prejudice throughout and beyond the AIDS epidemic

While advertisers understood the needs of these often-neglected consumers, they faced delicate challenges in getting their message across without upending queer people’s lives by, for example, “outing” them by association.

As we celebrate LGBT+ History Month, we want to celebrate three campaigns that stand out for their bravery – and cleverness – in speaking directly, and sometimes in code, to the queer community. 



The vodka brand Absolut has a long history of support for the queer community. It was the first brand to advertise in gay magazines in the early ’80s, and worked with icons such as Keith Haring, Andy Warhol and David LaChapelle. 

One of the ways it spoke to gay consumers was through a 1986 poster featuring art by Haring, a passionate AIDS activist; in this way, Absolut subtly got across their support for gay rights without needing to spell it out.

LGBT History month campaign 1 Absolut blog


In the 1990s, Subaru did some research to identify four groups of key buyers in their American market. They made a surprising discovery – there was a fifth group, and they were single women living as the head of a household.

Subaru “coded” the ads so that only lesbians would understand – there were allusions to the TV show Xena: Warrior Princess, a popular gay vacation spot, and super smart a-ha copy.

LGBT History month campaign 2 Subaru blog

United Colors Of Benetton

In the early ’90s, United Colors Of Benetton produced some of the most controversial ads of the era. The brand was forthright in its support for the queer community with arresting imagery that remains striking to this day.

Ranging from AIDS activism to empowering images of interracial queer relationships, the fashion firm was bold in its backing of LGBTQIA+ communities at a time when doing so was still taboo.

LGBT History month campaign 3 United colours blog

Celebrating change-making campaigns

While we celebrate LGBT+ History Month and the rights for which queer people have fought and won, there’s still more work to do. Many parts of the community are moving into the mainstream – but certain groups remain marginalised. 

This LBGT History Month we’ll be donating to ICON UK, a charity focusing on supporting people with I/VSC (intersex traits/variations of sex characteristics) and Mermaids, a charity supporting trans, non-binary and gender-diverse children, young people and their families.


Want to get involved? Donate here:

If you’d like to share any amazing queer campaigns with us, we’d love to hear from you – email us at