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CREATIVE STRATEGY: Amtrak fearlessly courts the LGBT community

If you weren't already familiar with the potential power of sponsorship and aligning your brand with particular communities, then the 2012 London Olympic Games will certainly have opened your eyes.

Amtrak: champions diversity

Amtrak: champions diversity

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Of course, none of the above is confined to these shores or sporting arenas. So let’s take a peek across the pond. Have a look at this site for Amtrak.

Nothing remarkable, eh?  A fairly standard site for a rail company that happens to operate in the North American continent. But scroll down and click About Amtrak at the very bottom of the page. Under Amtrak Culture & Career you’ll find a section on Diversity.

So far, so corporate. Diversity is a buzzword among HR/CSR people. Big companies tick that box and... so what?

Well, Amtrak have taken the logic of supporting diversity a bit further than most.  As you can see in their campaign, reviewed on Huffington Post and unapologetically entitled 'Ride With Pride'.

The offer is bog standard in the travel industry – children can travel for less.  And the creative is really nothing to write home about.

Where it gets interesting is in the portrayal of the families.  One ad features a lesbian couple with their daughter, the other a homosexual male couple with their son.

Do you think that might raise a few eyebrows in the Mid-West?  Wait ‘til the rednecks click through to the microsite.

One of the recent articles was entitled 'The Bronze Eye Is Open:  A Philosophy Of Anal Sex'.

In the UK, brands like Nationwide and Tesco are very clear on their support for employees, suppliers and partners from the LGBT world.  Embracing diversity seems a natural and business-like policy.

But you’re probably thinking – like me – that Amtrak’s stance will lose them as many customers as it gains.  One has to applaud their bravery. 

Simon S Kershaw is a creative consultant and a former creative director at Craik Jones.

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