San Diego Pride

Dr. Bronner’s All-One Family at San Diego Pride

You don’t need the Magic Foam Experience, but you do need brand strategy.

Last weekend I had the thrill of joining my old neighbors for the 40th annual San Diego Pride. We started our day with a fast 5K run among the tutu’d and tattooed in the heart of Hillcrest, and ended at a favored spot along the parade route on 6th Avenue near Balboa Park. Admittedly, I have not been to the parade in nearly 14 years. When I went this year, it was with my branding goggles on, ready to capture the best examples of brand authenticity in a sponsorship environment.

What I learned:

1. Know Your Audience

Said to attract 250,000 people, San Diego Pride Parade is a unique way to get in front of lots of bodies with significant purchasing (or as the case may be, voting) power. It’s not enough to just show up, you need to craft your message to get the most bang for your buck.

To make sure you message means something, stay true to your brand, and know the crowd. Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, known for its eccentricity, lathered up the crowd with dance tunes and a mobile shower station…featuring plenty of suds and sexy bodies. Their street team handed out eco friendly packaged samples of the special soap. They know who they are, and they know their audience. Well played, Dr. B.


2. People Love Free Stuff

So not only do you want to get in front of people, but in most cases you’d like to leave a good impression. Or at least, an impression. When you don’t have a super synced theme or mind blowing dance moves why not give the masses some freebies? Temporary tattoos, bottle openers, soap(!), and BOGO coupons garnered good vibes.

3. Creativity Gets the Crowd Talking

A day later we were still buzzing about the brands that went above and beyond their daily headline. Not a surprise, this company is known for their clever copy and approachability. Chipotle managed to hit ALL three rules. They crafted their message to the audience, but stayed true to their brand. They had freebies. They were CLEVER, and fun.

While the “Homo Estas?” campaign debuted in 2013, it’s still relevant today. Written in big bold letters, “Homo Estas?” is positioned above the famed silver wrapped burritos with a rainbow wash over them, on T-shirts worn by a employees and fans on the parade spectator route. This was complemented by their float theme: “Big Bucking Burrito” which featured a mechanical bull burrito mounted by a Chipotle pro rider surrounded by dancers in western attire. Their street team wore the aforementioned T’s and handed out BOGO coupons with the same Homo Estas? message. A total homerun.


Okay, so the winning combination for successful brand expression at a major event (or parade) is ALL of the above: Do more than just show up—be authentic to your brand and know your audience, give stuff away, and last but not least, get creative.