Zalando breaks the patterns of fashion advertising: Pride pioneers star as faces of the new campaign

As part of Zalando’s campaign, Finnish Pride pioneers are donning the kinds of outfits they were dreaming to wear long ago – already when dressing so freely was taboo. Dresscode: Freedom campaign is a thank you letter written with joy and style to the forerunners of the LGBTQ+ cause, as it highlights the stories of the pioneers serving as the faces of the campaign. The campaign was designed and executed by the Helsinki-based creative agency SEK.  

Dresscode: Freedom shines the spotlight on Finland’s LGBTQ+ pioneers and activists. The pioneers serving as the faces of this campaign get to dress in the kinds of outfits they were longing to wear decades ago, but were unable to because of the prevailing intolerance – or the fear of being labelled mentally ill or a criminal. Zalando is the chief partner of Helsinki Pride in 2021 and continues to bring forth local LGBTQ+ influencers as part of the campaign.

– Diversity is a hot topic in advertising, and for a good reason. It’s great to be a part of helping people see more diversity – both in terms of sexual minorities and age groups – and bringing it into our cityscapes with this campaign. We’re still not seeing enough people of all ages represented in advertising – especially when it comes to fashion, says Annu Terho, SEK’s Creative Director in charge of the campaign’s planning.

This year, Pride celebrations mark a multitude of milestones in Finland. Homosexuality was struck off from the Finnish criminal code 50 years ago, and removed from the classification of diseases in the country 40 years ago. It’s also been 30 years since the LGBTQ+ advocacy group Helsinki Seta and the Pride community were founded, and 10 years since transvestism and sexual fetishism were removed from the list of classified diseases.

– It is not that long ago when a woman wearing trousers instead of a skirt or dress was considered inappropriate. When a man wore a dress on the cover of Vogue last year, it sparked a major controversy. Things like these are the reason why it’s so important to create campaigns that highlight certain freedoms, such as everyone’s right to dress how they prefer and be who they are, as basic human rights, comments SEK’s Creative Director Heli Roiha.

Dresscode: Freedome

With the Dresscode: Freedom campaign, Zalando wants to thank and bring forth Finnish pioneers who with their activism and work have paved the way for the rights of sexual minorities today. Bringing their wonderful styles and stories to the spotlight with this campaign are Lars Svarström, Tiina Lindfors, Axu Saha and Juha Laurikainen. These human rights activists have been guiding the way for increased tolerance and equality for decades – and continue to do so.

The multichannel campaign will have a strong presence on social media, in OOH advertising spaces around the city, as well as the large display screens in central Helsinki. The ad campaign is supported by a series of influencer collaborations, which also add a new layer to the campaign story by combining the LGBTQ+ influencers of the modern day with the campaign’s pioneers.

Dresscode: Freedom has been designed and executed by the creative agency SEK. Simelius simelius, an image director duo, were responsible for the campaign’s video and photo production, while the influencer collaborations were coordinated by Miltton agency.

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