Branding Beyond the Rainbow: An Exploration of Authentic Advertising for Gen-Z's LGBTQ+ Community




Turner, Kaitlynn

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“Brand authenticity” is an interesting concept. It’s difficult to objectively define, hard to effectively execute, yet remains a requirement in winning the hearts of consumer audiences. Generation-Z, the most diverse and openly LGBTQ+ generation yet, places high value upon authenticity and purpose-driven marketing. This creates a challenge for advertisers as they adapt their messaging to the next big wave of spenders; brands must find a way to connect with Gen-Z’s LGBTQ+ audience without engaging in the pitfalls of rainbow-washing, a phenomenon defined as the commodification of LGBTQ+ liberation through inauthentic corporate practices. While previous studies suggest that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to authentic corporate messaging, this study expands upon our understanding of what is valued by an important subset of Gen-Z through the lens of signaling theory. This quantitative research among Gen-Z participants suggests that marketers should focus their messaging on LGBTQ+ representation, backed by corporate integrity and credibility through acts of corporate social activism with tangible benefits to the LGBTQ+ community.



authenticity, advertising, gen-Z, LGBTQ+, Honors College


Turner, K. (2022). Branding beyond the rainbow: An exploration of authentic advertising for Gen-Z's LGBTQ+ community (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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