Brands See Opportunity In Gay Marriage Ruling

We can all agree on one thing: today’s Supreme Court decision invalidating the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act was, is, and will continue to be a big deal. It’s not that the justices’ conclusions were a big surprise as most observers did not expect them to uphold existing gay marriage bans on the state or federal level. But it still inspired strong emotions for many Americans.

Of course, politicians of all stripes were quick to offer their takes on the issue.

In other words, the debate will go on. Now for the question of the day: how can brands turn this major cultural and political event into a great PR opportunity?

Glad you asked—and you probably won’t be surprised to learn that they were on the case Wednesday morning. While Americans remain divided on gay marriage, there’s no longer much of a risk for brands to publicly support it as long as their primary audience doesn’t consist of conservative Christians.

In fact, quite a few had campaigns ready to go as soon as the news broke.

Smirnoff beat everyone to the punch on Tuesday. Not an incredibly risky move, but it’s always good to be first.

Many brands had elaborate interactive campaigns prepared; Banana Republic launched a Facebook photo contest to celebrate the decision.

While fashion brands have always been among gay marriage’s strongest supporters, a few less obvious parties also sought to make the most of the story. MasterCard was one of the first out of the gate, hyping its scheduled #AcceptanceMatters (get it?) campaign with promoted tweets right after the Court handed its decision down.

Then Orbitz hyped gay vacations.

USA Today used the story’s ubiquity to promote its status as a leading news source with a well-placed sponsored tweet.

On the entertainment side, the decision couldn’t have come at a better time for ABC Family‘s latest Modern Family imitator The Fosters, which piggybacked off the #LoveIsLove tag.

Branding messages from longtime gay rights advocates like MTV and Ben & Jerry’s were some of the day’s least surprising, but they still performed well.

In short, lots of brands saw an opportunity and wisely struck while the iron was still hot.

Here’s our favorite promo of the day:

Gay marriage in Westeros? Hey, it could happen. It’s all for the good of the realm.

SPOILER ALERT: Unfortunately, it’s too late for Renly Baratheon.

@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.