As Supreme Court justices heard oral arguments over two marriage equality cases last March, a tidal wave of visual support for the marital rights of gays and lesbians began to roll over Facebook. Conceived by the LBGT rights organization the Human Rights Campaign, millions of Facebook users changed their profile pictures to a pink equals sign on a red background — a variation on the HRC logo. In coming days, supporters even devised their own versions of the logo featuring — among many things — Bert and Ernie, prone corgis, and bacon.
The simple gesture became a much-reported barometer of popular sentiment on the issue as the Supreme Court eventually invalidated the Defense of Marriage Act. Facebook declared it the most successful viral marketing campaign in the site’s history.
The architect of the campaign was Human Rights Campaign marketing director Anastasia Khoo. Her work has racked up best campaign awards from Mashable and PR Week and even the Best in Show award at SXSW Interactive. The Hub named her their “Digital Innovator of the Year,” and her work is nominated for two awards at the Webbys — which take place May 20th.
Below is an email Q&A (very lightly edited) I had with Anastasia this week about the strategy behind the campaign and what other advocates can take away from the extraordinary response it received on Facebook.