HRC Launches Equality Act Campaign with support from VMLY&R and WPP

Reality Flag


The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) – the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization – launched a nationwide public awareness campaign to call attention to the inequalities LGBTQ+ people face in the United State

Created by WPP’s VMLY&R, BCW, Wavemaker and Hogarth, the campaign is designed to rally public support for The Equality Act, landmark federal legislation that would guarantee explicit and consistent non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people in key areas of life across the country. 

The campaign is centered around The Reality Flag: an altered version of the American flag with 29 stars removed to represent the states that do not guarantee basic rights and freedoms for LGBTQ+ people. 

Leaders from WPP Unite – WPP’s global LGBTQ+ employee resource group – met with representatives of the HRC to discuss how WPP could support HRC’s work to advance the rights of LGBTQ+ people in the United States. HRC wanted to create a campaign to bring awareness to the fact that 29 states still lack basic non-discrimination protections for the LGBTQ+ community.

Bringing together a cross agency team of creatives, strategists, media planners, designers, public relations practitioners and producers from VMLY&R, BCW, Wavemaker and Hogarth, WPP Unite created a provocative pro bono campaign to support HRC’s work and lift the voices of those communities most impacted. 

Agency responsibilities included: strategy, creative, social and influencer engagement from VMLY&R; earned media and pitching, messaging development, third-party engagement, and strategy from BCW; media buys and OOH from Wavemaker; and asset development and production from Hogarth.

The Reality Flag campaign aims to bring its message and powerful imagery to audiences both on and offline: As the campaign debuts at and across a number of national media platforms, an 85-foot-long banner featuring the “Reality Flag” will be unfurled and fanned out across the front of the Human Rights Campaign’s iconic headquarters in Washington, D.C., just six blocks from the White House. But the campaign’s most compelling content launches in a series of powerful video ads created by Emmy Award-winning director, producer, and creator of Amazon’s Transparent Joey Soloway, who showcases the real stories and lived experiences of LGBTQ+ people impacted by discrimination – using the video vignettes to not only underscore the urgent need for the Equality Act, but to also inspire and move audiences to take action. 

Brian Ellner, Executive Sponsor of WPP Unite North America, said: “WPP’s ambition is to build better futures for our people, the planet, our clients and the communities we serve. When we launched WPP Unite in North America we wanted to find an opportunity right away to make an impact so we immediately reached out to HRC to ask how we could help in the fight for fairness. HRC wanted a bold creative campaign to help get the Equality Act back in the political conversation and to educate the public on the continued lack of equality for LGBTQ+ Americans living in 29 states. We weren’t shying away from this one – Reality Flag is the perfect example of how WPP uses its creativity and its scale as a force for good.”

Mark Read, CEO of WPP, said: “Over the last few years, we have worked hard to build a culture of inclusion, purpose and collaboration at WPP. When these things combine, we deliver bold and impactful work to our clients. I’m delighted to see WPP Unite doing exactly that and making such an immediate impact in support of the Human Rights Campaign’s crucial campaign to see the Equality Act passed.”

Joni Madison, Interim President of the Human Rights Campaign, said: “We are incredibly grateful for WPP’s support, creativity and boldness in envisioning, developing and launching this campaign. The Reality Flag, and the stories it tells, reflects the lived experience of so many LGBTQ+ people across the country, and it will have a real impact in our fight to deliver equal rights for our community.”

Ensuring everyone who works at WPP experiences an inclusive and equitable culture is one of the cornerstones of our strategy. WPP understands that our own culture is necessarily shaped by the cultures of the societies in which we work. It is for that reason that we support action across the world to bring about greater inclusion and equity for those who face discrimination.

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