23. März 2022
ADC Festival

„What we believe is reflected in how we behave and treat others.“

Mit seinem Mastercard Case „True Name“ für McCann New York machte Lucas Crigler das Thema Transidentität sichtbar. Doch auch sein Engagement als Transgender-Aktivist in der Werbebranche brachte ihm die Ernennung zu einem von Adweek's Pride Stars 2021 ein. Beim ADC Festival 2022 wird der Creative Director bei SS+K New York und Mitglied des Board of Diversity and Inclusion für Ad Age über seinen gefeierten Case sprechen – und über die Rolle der Werbung für die Rechte queerer Menschen.

Dear Lucas, regarding this year’s ADC motto „Ideas create reality“: Which ideas changed your reality?

I’m a huge believer in manifestation and the power of the mind to attract what you believe to be true. Several years ago I was living alone in the middle of the United States and entered a very dark period in my life, as a string of unfortunate events happed to occur around the same time. Instead of giving into the idea that my reality was as bad as it may have appeared to be, I would repeat a mantra in my mind that „things would get better“ and to „keep going“ until I began to believe it to be true. Eventually the universe opened to present me with a way out of that situation, and ever since my world has been increasingly improving, filled with amazing opportunities. I’m incredibly grateful for that and not a day goes by I don’t think about how much worse off I would be had I not believed in my heart things weren’t as bad as they seemed.

What role do creative ideas play in the progress towards a more inclusive world?

What we believe is reflected in how we behave and treat others. We, as humans all have basic needs. There are our more tactile needs: food, water, clothing, shelter. Then there are our emotional needs: love, trust, affection, validation, acceptance… etc. The ability to see people in a different light… perhaps someone who, on the outside doesn’t look or act like you, but when you dig deeper you find you’re in fact very similar in those human ways… that’s what connects us and creates a more inclusive world. Once that common ground is found, it opens the door for a dialogue about ways in which we differ and creates a foundation of empathy for someone else’s lived experiences. Judging someone at surface-value is only done with a narrow mind. Creativity to explore more about them is the key to an open heart.

What was your favorite campaign in the last year? Did one stand out in particular?

Well, I love the quote „Don’t create advertising ideas. Create ideas worth advertising.“ Any idea that works with product innovation that helps a marginalized community is a win. That’s why Woojer and Claire’s Place: Sick Beats was one of my favorite from last year, where they modified a medical vest for kids with Cystic Fibrosis.

„Any idea that works with product innovation that helps a marginalized community is a win.“

As a member of the Board of Diversity and Inclusion at Ad Age, what structural changes are still to be made in order to make the advertising industry a more inclusive space?

We have a lot of discussion around how to best be inclusive without being exploitative. These days we need more advertising agencies to hire (and mentor) more diverse people without doing it purely for the recognition. Diversity without virtue signaling is when the efforts genuine. The same applies to brands and how they include diverse people in their messaging. We’ve made strides as an industry, but there’s still more work to be done.

Pride Month has become an established moment for brands to show solidarity and spread positive messages – but the risk of pinkwashing always resonates in marketing. What can marketeers do to not undermine the cause of the community?

Extend these efforts beyond one singular month of the year. We’re not LGBTQ only during June. This is who we are all the time and it would be nice to be thought about and considered during the other 11 months. Also, don’t assume we’re all the same. Our experiences can vary greatly. Survey a wide variety of the community and ask questions. The more authentic stories you can gather, the truer the insights and more trust a brand can gain from its consumers. Finally, brands should put their money where their mouth is and actually act to create systemic change. Be it within their corporation starting with their own employees, or within the LGBTQ community as a whole, big brands have a platform and have a social responsibility to act in a way where they know they’re influencing other’s behaviors. The world is watching.

At the ADC Congress, you will talk about your inspiring case True Name for Mastercard. What did mean for you to work on this campaign?

Everything. I like to call it my smallest, biggest idea. True Name, as you know, is based on my real-life personal experience when I was outed as being trans in the middle of NYC while simply ordering a sandwich at a café. For me, it was incredibly humiliating but for many trans people in more conservative parts of the world a scenario like that could have resulted in them being denied service or even assaulted. As the card began to roll out I’ve been contacted by dozens of trans people all over the world expressing their gratitude, some even saying it’s prevented them from ending their life. Never in a million years did I expect I’d have the opportunity to create such an impactful change in my career and I can only hope more companies take notice and make the change to accept everyone for who they are, regardless of race, sexuality, religion or identity.


Lucas Crigler wird am 19. Mai beim ADC Kongress im Rahmen des ADC Festivals 2022 auftreten.

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