How #ThisIsFamily Became a World-Changing Idea

What makes an idea not just good, not just innovative, but world changing? For the past three years, Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas awards have “celebrate[d] businesses, policies, and nonprofits that are poised [to] help shift society to a more sustainable and more equitable future.” And earlier this year, the #ThisIsFamily initiative for the Google 2018 Pride campaign, in collaboration with Firewood, was awarded an honorable mention. Now that we’ve officially completed our second year of Pride campaigns, we thought it was high time to share how we collaborated with Google the first time around to expand the brand and showcase LGBTQ+ families.

Read on to discover how an idea goes from just that—an idea—to something that can change the world.

The challenge

Within the past few decades, the movement for LGBTQ+ civil liberties has gained more momentum than ever before. But despite having come so far, LGBTQ+ people are still striving for full global equality, especially when it comes to marriage and adoption rights, the ability to change their gender legally, and legal protections from discrimination.

Our collective Pride team was tasked with making the #ThisIsFamily campaign theme broadly applicable to all segments of the LGBTQ+ community, while also encouraging community members to see their experiences reflected within the campaign. We wanted this campaign to be relatable to everyone. We also aimed to encourage people to take action by donating to nonprofit partners and sharing their own family pictures with our #ThisIsFamily hashtag.

Our strategy

#ThisIsFamily really leans into the Google “build for everyone” brand pillar. In honor of Pride month, we leveraged the brand’s reach to expand conversations on inclusivity and intersectionality—and acknowledged that the LGBTQ+ community is still working to realize full equality.

The campaign also supported an inclusive visual identity that gave transgender and bisexual people equal space and celebration next to gays and lesbians—a first for Google.

Why the theme of family?

  • Family is a universal concept. Everyone wants to feel at home with people who love them.
  • Historically, LGBTQ+ people have embraced their own chosen families as a means of support and belonging—especially when they weren’t accepted by the families they were born into.

The #ThisIsFamily campaign honored these insights and appealed to human empathy. It helped shape a more inclusive family narrative that accurately reflected the faces and experiences of LGBTQ+ people.


Over the course of three months, we pulled together a diverse team from within Firewood and partnered with Google on a global 360-degree campaign. With a focused message spread across multiple touchpoints, the integrated campaign spanned multiple platforms and six languages. 

We developed a digital campaign that challenged traditional concepts of family in a heartfelt and playful way. It included display ads, activations, events, social media, swag, parade float design, and user-generated content. For example, we asked a diverse group of LGBTQ+ celebrities and YouTube influencers to embrace the #ThisIsFamily hashtag and to share their own family photos and stories, while encouraging others to do the same.

Campaign results

Overall, #ThisIsFamily performed better on all key metrics when compared to the 2017 Google Pride campaign, drawing 6.9M video views, 3.3K shares on social media, and 16 Pride campaign activations across the Americas (including Brazil and Canada) and Europe. The #ThisIsFamily hashtag was supported by social influencers like Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Rita Ora, and Amber Heard. Instagram-able sculptures and photo booths at key events also encouraged share-worthy family portraits.

Visitors to donated to nonprofit partners PFLAG, It Gets Better Project, and GLAAD, with Google matching donations to their nonprofit partners—up to $100K during the month of June 2018.

The impact

Through #ThisIsFamily, we encouraged “the world to question their lens” regarding family constructs—and promoted a broader definition of family that’s inclusive of LGBTQ+ experiences. By spotlighting nontraditional families (like those that include same-sex parents or trans or nonbinary children) and chosen families (like drag communities and LGBTQ+ sports leagues), we helped normalize them. And by celebrating universal family themes of love, support, acceptance, and parenthood, we were able to remind the world that when it comes to feeling at home with the people we love, we’re more alike than we might seem.

When it comes to feeling at home with the people we love, we’re more alike than we might seem.