It’s been at least a day since I last found a random piece of glitter in my hair, and the resultant headache from a long night out is now finally just a memory.
You see, it’s been a week since I joined Holden at the 2017 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, but that’s how long it took to be rid of the sparkles as well as that shadow that follows (now that I’m in my 30s) after a night out.
This year, Holden became the first car company to partner with Mardi Gras and launched the 2017 Official Mardi Car partnership with a range of rainbow-wrapped vehicles joining the festivities. Some 12,000 people were part of the parade, with around 300,000 lining the streets in Sydney.
I’d never been to Mardi Gras before, and when I arrived to meet the Holden team, there were certainly a few faces I recognised among the fabulous ambassadors. Australian comedian Mark Trevorrow, who you may know better as Bob Down, along with US singer Steve Grand, drag legend Cindy Pastel, actress Lucy Lawless from Xena: Warrior Princess, performer and drag artist Trevor Ashley and Big Brother 2012 winner Ben Norris among the famous faces preparing to climb into the back of a Colorado ute and face the masses lining Oxford and Flinders Streets.
Excitement and anticipation was in the air and, as we waited for the cue to take our positions, I started chatting with a lovely Indigenous couple who had been together for 28 years.
They may not be famous, but it was clear they are pillars of their community, work tirelessly to support others and were proud to be standing in the tray of a Colorado ute and be a part of this iconic event.
Being in a room full of personalities and comedians was never going to be boring, and my stomach muscles were already aching when I went to climb into the passenger seat of one of the vehicles. The plan was to take some photographs along the way and experience first-hand why this is such an important partnership for Holden.
Then came a knock at the window : would I like to jump on the back of one of the cars? Hell yeah!
I clambered up rather ungracefully and came face-to-face with Trevor Ashley, who promptly informed me to stay seated for a while. No worries, I totally get it! He’s the star of this particular ute and I was incredibly lucky to get to ride out in the open air and really be a part of it all.
Trevor was a lot of fun, draping himself over the roof of the cabin and shouting out to his fans. And believe me, he had some fans!
The parade moves slowly and it’s quite a long route, yet still the crowds were packed along the sides of the barricades with even more watching from the many balconies and windows that line the route. It was an intense experience and the adrenaline was pumping by the time we reached the finish line.
This is not your ordinary sponsorship or support deal – many car companies get behind events and causes that represent company values, and which the company feels will resonate with its target buying demographic. But, marriage equality is a charged political and social topic at the moment. In our book, here at CarAdvice, Holden deserves a high-five for making its stance on this issue crystal clear.
Being there in the moment, in that environment, there was no negativity surrounding any business or personal involvement in the event. However, just like any business that supports something that crosses the boundaries of religion, politics, societal values and personal opinions, unfortunately Holden had to deal with some keyboard warriors.
I was watching Holden’s social media channels and, although there was a lot of support, a few wannabe-comedians and genuine interest, there were also some that saw an opportunity to publicly voice their opinions in a not so diplomatic fashion.
The Holden social team has to be commended on the way it handled every negative comment – with class, a sense of humour and a clear message. Catch a few faves below.
Well Holden, next time I’m looking for a new car it looks like you’ve made my decision easier by eliminating yourself from my list.
Hi Dave, we’re sorry to hear this. But we’re never going to be sorry about supporting equality and tolerance. – Matt @ Holden
I hate when companies jump on a band-wagon, thanks for a really cliched advert, I didn’t like your rebadged Korean products to begin with…
Hi Steff! We’re not just jumping on the bandwagon now, we’ve been on and singing for almost a year now since signing the marriage equality register! This is just our next step in showing support for equality and the LGBT+ community. Thanks, Liana.
Holden, you’re a disgrace to Australia.
Hi Patrick. We actually think it’s the exact opposite! We want to support the whole community and live in a world where everybody is included and treated equal, regardless of race, religion, gender, age or orientation – Andy @ Holden
Holden are going to lose a lot of business over this, bad marketing decision. How to alienate the majority of Australia in one go. What about supporting families and tradies and celebrate them!!
This isn’t about alienation Gregory. It’s about lending our voice to shatter stereotypes and out-dated attitudes. And also something that may shock you about the LGBT+ community… they are all people who are part of families in every profession! Madison.
According to Holden Australia, it was also the first company in Australia to publicly support marriage equality and Ashley Winnett, executive director of human resources at Holden said the brand’s commitment to equality goes much deeper than a simple rainbow car wrap.
“We’re so excited to show our support as the automotive partner of this year’s Mardi Gras. At Holden, we believe in equal rights for all and to be in solidarity with a community our employees are already a part of means a lot,” Winnett said.
“We’ve also introduced a paid leave policy for employees impacted by family and domestic violence, we’ve extended paid maternity leave to paid paternity leave to give men the same period of paid leave as women and we worked with Collingwood football club to restructure our sponsorship to better support women’s football and grassroots sport.”
Well said, and well-played Holden.