Whereas throughout Western Europe the LGBTQ Pride movement receives political and social affirmation, pride activism in Bulgaria is still something of a guerilla initiative reflecting the marginal status of the LGBTQ community in the country. Yes, there is an annual Pride parade taking place in Sofia but every single year it has always been accompanied by an organized counter-demonstration by far-right activists aiming to denounce the morality of homosexuality. Moreover, in the political context of the country, those far-rights are more likely to receive direct political support from right-of-centre parties, while the same can’t be positively stated about the Pride activists. Not a single Bulgarian politician had publicly endorsed the movement. Even more indicative is a recent survey conducted by Pew Research Centre according to which 79% of Bulgarians oppose or strongly oppose allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally.
The roses are yet to blossom in the country of rose valleys.
Considering the uninviting socio-political climate, trying to push forward the idea for equal human rights is more likely to be received negatively than the other way around. But this is not a good enough reason not to embark upon the quest for tolerance and understanding. Even if the organization that takes the stand is neither a multi-million company nor a well-known NGO but a local burger place. And even if the latter could be toying around with the risk of annihilating its own reputation in the process.
‘’Sounds like the burger you would never give a chance? Exactly.’’
Yet we had to do it. We took a firm stand for something we believe in. Skaptoburger — the place for beers, burgers and buddies (as their founders deemed it) had to let it out loud that it is a place for beers, burgers and ALL buddies. All buddies.
So without further ado let us guide you through the 72 hours long of a rollercoaster we had and how we got from the client’s ‘’I might reconsider our business relationship’’ to an honorary letter from the US embassy in Bulgaria.
The start: As every respectable burger place does, Skaptoburger has its very own burger of the week. And here we were in Pride week 2018. So we figured it was only appropriate to celebrate the struggle of those campaigning for diversity and equality. So what more fitting than putting a mango on a burger? Sounds like the burger you would never give a chance? Exactly.
Then we proceeded to our standard practice of sticking up an announcement post for our latest burger of the week on Facebook. Indeed, some people came out to lunch.
Not long after the post was live, the negative feedback Skapto received had well surpassed the medium rare stage. It took only two and a half hours for the worst that can happen to a food (or for that matter - any) venue to happen: rating rock bottomed. From 4.7 to 3.3. Poof. Of course, the low rates were complimented with some praising comments and wishful notes:
‘’I think I might vomit’’ — ★
‘’I am not too keen on your political propaganda. I used to visit your place, but since I saw your latest burger I don’t think I will be again’’ — ★
‘’There weren’t any heteroburgers left?’’ — ★
And so on. Who ordered an express reality check?
Аll of the sudden it turned out that mango on a burger along with basic human rights was considered more infuriating than the pineapple pizza is (Ouch!). With our backs against the wall, and all our eggs in one basket we had to act. So we reinforced our stance on the subject with a follow-up Facebook post. The visual was ‘paying tribute’ to the aforementioned not very pleasant feedback, whereas in the outer copy we’ve stated in a rather direct manner what do we actually stand for.
For the following 72 hours, the online conversation was steadily bubbling up on Skapto’s page.
Hate was still present. But fortunately, it was no match for the positive support coming from numerous supporters of the LGBTQ movement.
When the line was drawn, our message reached 200 000 people and more than 400 of them had opted for love over hate and expressed their support. Eventually, our rating sky-rocketed back to 4.9 — which was even more than the original rating of 4.7.
Many had shared our posts, thus spreading our message, and apparently, it grabbed the attention of the US press attaché for Bulgaria himself who wrote us an open letter expressing his support for the cause we had engaged with. We did not see that coming quite frankly, but it was easily one of the most awesome things we could not even conceive might occur (If you’re feeling nosy you can peep the surprising e-mail here).
The moral story? You have to break a couple of eggs to make an omelette and you have to put some mango in a burger and expose your precious TripAdvisor rating to triggered people with opposing political views on social media if you want your statement to be genuine. We don’t get our hands dirty only when it’s burger time. Buddies are equally worth the effort.
And by the way, we executed this stunt campaign with a virtually non-existent budget, yet we clearly had plenty to lose..and to gain as well. For this collaboration with Skapto, proof. brought home Gold in the ‘Brave’ category along with Silver for ‘Engagement’ and Bronze for ‘Social’ at the Bulgarian Edition of IAB Mixx Awards this year.