In partnership with MambaOnline and The Other Foundation, the inaugural Unite SA Awards are the first platform in South Africa to recognise and reward brands and agencies for their support of the LGBTQIA+ community across various categories.

The inaugural awards, which seek to “Un-stereotype” the community, will recognise LGBTQIA-affirming creative work from advertising and marketing agencies over the last three years at a ceremony in Johannesburg on 26 June 2024.

The award outcomes will allow agencies to not only push for greater LGBTQIA+ inclusion within communication, but also create spaces for diverse creativity, build better futures for clients and South Africans, as well as become a barometer of the state of LGBTQIA+ inclusion in advertising.

While most categories will be assessed by judging panels, the Unity in South Africa category will be decided by YOU, members of the LGBTQIA+ community!

How To Participate And Have Your Say!

1. View the images, videos and descriptions for each of the nominated campaigns below.
2. Score each campaign out of 10 based on how it resonates with you (10 being the highest score).
3. Once you’ve scored each campaign, click “submit” at the end of the page!

SA’s favourite queer-affirming campaign will be revealed on 26 June 2024!

Avon: Hydramatic Matte Lipstick

Avon introduced the world’s first Matte Lipstick with a hydrating core, revolutionising the way consumers experience matte lip colour. Their media campaign celebrated individuality, empowerment, and freedom of expression through colour lipstick and inclusivity. With captivating visuals and influencer collaborations, including LGBTQIA+ influencers, Avon amplified the impact of the Hydramatic Matte Lipstick. The campaign focused on making matte lipstick cool again, driving engagement through TikTok and other social platforms. By embracing unity in diversity, Avon fostered genuine connections with diverse audiences, promoting inclusivity and positive brand image. This gender-inclusive campaign challenged stereotypes, promoted authenticity, and drove meaningful social impact, setting a new standard for beauty and cosmetics marketing.

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BMW Generation Joy

High earning individuals come from diverse backgrounds and are part of the middle to upper-middle-class income group and are reshaping the global luxury market. It’s important that brands align with their values and identity, rejecting traditional status symbols and viewing luxury as a mindset. They embody a spirit of rebellious joy, moving away from outdated expectations and social norms, encapsulated in the concept of #NextGenJoy.

BMW’s #GenJoy campaign targeted a new generation that is distinct and transformative. These individuals are not just initiating change for themselves but also for future generations. They demand immediate transformation and embody the change they want to see, just like what was captured in the moving film. 

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BOS Ice Tea: Pride Billboard

BOS Ice Tea, known for its values of freedom, expression, fun, and choice, leveraged its bold and colourful cans to create a powerful statement. They arranged their cans into the design of the Pride flag, resulting in the BOS Pride Billboard. This 12×20 metre ad was strategically placed in the heart of Kenya’s main judicial district, aiming to promote visibility and support for LGBTQ+ rights.

Despite significant resistance from media partners and billboard installers in several countries including Ghana, Zambia, Kenya, Uganda, and Malawi, BOS persisted. The billboard faced a total ban in Uganda, highlighting the challenges of advocating for LGBTQ+ rights in these regions. BOS’s billboards served as a symbol of support during local, often illegal, Pride Marches in Kenya, making a bold statement against the suppression of LGBTQIA+ visibility.

The campaign’s most notable outcome was the outright ban of the billboard in Uganda, underscoring the controversial and impactful nature of the message.

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Coca-Cola Love is Love

Coca-Cola’s participation in the October Pride event in Johannesburg went beyond mere presence; it was a bold statement of support for diversity and inclusion. Leveraging social media content strategically crafted before the event, Coca-Cola mobilised audiences to join the rally in Sandton. This engagement was not a marketing tactic but a genuine demonstration of commitment. The content aimed to foster belonging among LGBTQI individuals and allies, sparking meaningful discussions and raising awareness. Coca-Cola’s initiative showcased enduring support, transcending superficial marketing gestures to strengthen bonds within the LGBTQI community and beyond.

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Diva Magazine x Kantar: The Diva Report

In a groundbreaking collaboration spanning three years, Kantar and DIVA Magazine spotlighted the diverse experiences of LGBTQIA+ women and non-binary individuals in the US and UK, while expanding their reach to include India and South Africa. They ventured into uncharted territory to explore the ‘so what’ of fostering inclusivity within internal HR and external marketing teams. Addressing the misconception that allies have it easy, the initiative emphasized that allyship is a verb, not a noun, aiming to deepen understanding through shared experiences. With meticulous planning and extensive fieldwork involving 2101 respondents, the report launched during DIVA’s 30th anniversary, coinciding with Lesbian Visibility Week. Highlighting the challenges faced by both allies and LGBTQIA+ individuals, the findings underscored the importance of creating safe and supportive environments, both online and in the workplace. Through actionable recommendations and case studies, the initiative aimed to catalyse change and foster a more inclusive society, where everyone has equal opportunities for advancement and support. 

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OPEN Door Campaign

Open Door addressed the challenges faced by newcomers to unfamiliar cities who struggle to find safe spaces and activities to meet new friends and explore. The unstereotyping idea promoted experiencing new moments with new friends through every door searched. By creating a fun and inclusive approach to discovering activities within safe spaces, Open Door aimed to connect newcomers with like-minded individuals without the worry of safety concerns. The campaign utilised out-of-home posters, digital advertising on social media platforms, pop-up installations, and the Open Door app to reach its audience. Although not executed in the real world, the campaign overview showcased in university exhibitions generated awareness among students, sparking interest in inclusion and exploration.

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Savanna: The Legend of Chakalaka Norris

For the campaign “The Legend of Chakalaka Norris,” Savanna introduced their new Chilled Chilli beverage by leveraging South Africa’s love for spice and humour. The campaign featured a character named Chakalaka Norris, a bold and charismatic figure representing both intense spiciness and inclusivity, notably identifying as the “plus” in LGBTQ+.

Savanna utilised a multi-platform strategy that included a memorable TV commercial, social media content, and radio spots. The campaign’s narrative highlighted Chakalaka Norris’ legendary spiciness and his role as a symbol of cultural and identity diversity. Unique elements like a “Bad Service Bar” and a spicy voice assistant named Gugu further engaged audiences.

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Scottish Leader

For the campaign “#BraveMakesItBetter,” Scottish Leader collaborated with the unconventional and creative artist Moonchild Sanelly to redefine the whisky drinking experience. The campaign aimed to challenge the traditional image of whisky drinkers, typically seen as old straight white men, by highlighting diversity and inclusivity. Key elements of the campaign included:

  1. Moonchild Sanelly Collaboration: Moonchild Sanelly appeared on the cover of GQ South Africa and worked with Scottish Leader to create the Moonchild Sherry Cask Limited Edition whisky.
  2. Social Media Competition: A nationwide competition encouraged participants to share photos and stories of what makes them unique and brave. Winners were featured alongside Moonchild Sanelly in GQ South Africa and shared their stories on various channels.
  3. GQ South Africa Cover: The campaign included a cover reveal party for the October issue of GQ, celebrating the winners and their bravery.
  4. Digital and Print Channels: The campaign was promoted through social media, digital content, and print media.

The results of the campaign demonstrated a successful shift towards a more inclusive whisky brand, engaging a broader audience and celebrating diversity in South Africa.

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Viceroy: Vul’umlomo: Conversations on Culture

Viceroy’s initiative, Vul’umlomo: Conversations on Culture, delved into societal norms and traditions to foster deeper understanding. In Episode 3, the platform challenged conventional perceptions of identity, focusing on gender expression and degrees of Africanism. By dismantling stereotypes, the series promoted inclusivity, emphasising that true belonging transcends rigid cultural norms. Premiering on YouTube and supported by a multi-platform campaign, the episode featured diverse voices and scholars, making complex cultural issues accessible. Through engaging discussions, Viceroy fostered a more inclusive society, where diverse expressions of identity are embraced and understood.

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VMLY&R: Proud Pronoun Project

With a growing understanding of gender expansiveness and its impact in the workplace, VMLY&R launched the Proud Pronoun Project. Recognising the importance of correct pronoun usage in empowering teams and driving business success, the project aimed to facilitate pronoun navigation in the online meeting space. For Pride Month, VMLY&R introduced an online platform where individuals could proudly generate their personal gender pronouns and create illustrations for use as Teams or Zoom backgrounds. This initiative not only promoted inclusivity but also allowed individuals to confidently assert their identities. With options catering to all cis, transgender, and non-binary individuals, the project empowered employees and clients alike to embrace their true selves, fostering a culture of belonging and understanding.

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Vodacom Safe Spaces #PrideAtWork

In response to the prevalence of online hate speech against the LGBTQIA+ community hindering progress, Vodacom launched its #PrideAtWork initiative. As an LGBTQIA+ gold employer, Vodacom aimed to translate its internal commitment to allyship into meaningful action for South Africa. Partnering with LGBTQIA+ individuals, the campaign introduced the #PrideAtWork Twitter Space Series, facilitating open dialogues on allyship and belonging in the workplace. Topics ranged from coming out to creating safe spaces for LGBTQIA+ employees. Leveraging Twitter Spaces, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and internal communications. Through authentic dialogue, Vodacom fostered understanding and solidarity within its workforce and beyond.

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Vuse x Drag Queens: Be Every You

Vuse launched a range of limited-edition vaping devices and flavours designed to reflect different aspects of creativity and identity. The Vuse x Drag Queens: Be Every You campaign featured three unique vaping devices and two contrasting flavours, symbolising the multifaceted nature of both vaping and human expression.

Vuse collaborated with prominent South African drag queens, such as Manilla von Teez and Khalani to break stereotypes and highlight the depth and diversity of their art form. The campaign included digital content showcasing the drag queens’ personal stories and artistic inspirations, internal activations and an external activation in the form of a drag brunch event.

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Vuse: Routes of Inspiration

Recognising the need to break the cycle of sameness in the creative field, Vuse understands that intersectional diversity is essential for inspiration and creativity. The campaign, titled “Vuse: Routes of Inspiration,” aimed to promote belonging by highlighting diverse voices and stories within the creative community.

Vuse advocates for the power of creativity to inspire positive change and has a history of supporting LGBTQIA+ creatives globally and locally. Vuse collaborated with prominent creatives such as Karabo Poppy (Visual Artist) and Courtnaé Paul (Hip hop choreographer, B-Girl, and DJ) to showcase their inspirational journeys through a content series focused on showcasing the talents and stories of these creatives, delving into their lives, values, and creative processes. Each two-minute digital film portrayed them as heroes, emphasising their successes, failures, and the brand’s tagline, “Live Inspired.”

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