For over 6 years we’ve worked alongside New Orleans Tourism to bring a more authentic voice to their LGBTQ marketing, catapulting them to GayCities’ 2nd “Most Welcoming City” designation two years in a row. With the launch of our “Everyone’s Welcoming Here” sticker program, and the fact that New Orleans can seriously DO a parade, when we learned about World Pride being in the US for the first time, it was clear we needed to be there. The event ended up being the largest Pride in the world with over 5 million in attendance and over 632,000 people watching it live on TV. To make the parade a success, we needed to go big, taking a 50’ riverboat float (the largest in the parade) to New York City. With a mix of locals, influencers and press, Mardi Gras costumes, and custom Pride flags, we handed out over 20,000 custom beads welcoming people to New Orleans.
To pull an event of this magnitude off, took over 8 months of planning, numerous volunteers, the engagement of local artists, and Mardi Gras master float builder, Kern Studios. We also enlisted the help of local businesses like Hansen’s SnoBliz and Krewe sunglasses to help us create a real New Orleans vibe. Because our main goal was to convey New Orleans as a welcoming city – open to everyone – especially the LGBTQ community, we needed to create an experience that would engage them, befriend them, and invite them to visit.
We accomplished that with our magnificent float as well three other activations. The first one, a brunch, was held at the Moxy Hotel in Times Square. At the hotel, we created a New Orleans themed event complete with masks, custom branded beads, and authentic king cakes flown in from New Orleans. Then, at Pride Island music festival, we engaged special brand representatives to sign people up for a special sweepstakes in which they could win a Mardi Gras trip to New Orleans. For Pride Fest, we created a unique New Orleans experience featuring a photo wall of flowers, custom beads for each guest, and handed out over 1300 Hansen’s Snoballs. In addition, we had special brand representatives circulating with the guests, greeting them and making them feel welcome. Overall, we not only increased awareness that New Orleans is a welcoming city – we showed it.