As travel starts to become a reality again with the advanced rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, two challenges remain for LGBTQ+ travelers even beyond public health — safety and acceptance. A new campaign from Orbitz, “Travel As You Are,” brings the celebration of LGBTQ+ identity to life, featuring a newly recorded version of “You Don’t Own Me” (popularized by Lesley Gore in 1963) performed by acclaimed R&B singer/songwriter Serpentwithfeet.
As the first major Black LGBTQ+ male artist to perform the iconic song, Serpentwithfeet is adding another milestone moment for a song that’s been featured in everything from “The First Wives Club” to “The Handmaid’s Tale” and covered by the likes of SayGrace, Kristin Chenoweth & Ariana Grande, Matt & Kim, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts and dozens of others.
“I was just looking for ways to stay true to the original, and keep some of the bite in it,” Serpentwithfeet says, adding of his involvement in the campaign, “I think it’s important that all of us feel comfortable when we’re globe-trotting, and I think it’s really beautiful that Orbitz has a section on their website with destinations that are LGBTQIA friendly. I’m happy they’re doing their part to change the climate, as it were.”
With flights and hotels starting to ramp back up after a year without travel, “the events of the past year ask us to re-examine what kind of world we want to create and live in as we begin to explore the world again,” says Carey Malloy, director of brand marketing for Orbitz. “We chose this song because it has historically represented empowerment, and more importantly it’s a declaration for empathy. There’s power in the lyrics, which are declarative sentences about how one should be treated or not treated based on norms that felt right for the campaign and direction. The song’s crescendo is also filled with defiance and a buildup that creates a sense of liberation that we wanted to celebrate.”
And with Serpentwithfeet’s newly released album “Deacon” already being praised by critics as a soulful celebration of Black, gay love, Malloy adds, “We chose Serpentwithfeet not only because of his unapologetic individuality that embodies our campaign, but also because his music is so multi-dimensional. His vocals conjure a realness and honesty that we wanted for this song. It was important that this work authentically represent the diversity and intersectionality present in the LGBTQIA+ community and travel industry.”
Orbitz’s campaign will launch this week and air throughout 2021 across a variety of digital media platforms including online video, Tastemade, Thrillist, social media and streaming audio. Orbitz is also working directly with many LGBTQIA publishers including Q Digital, Edge Media Network, Instinct, Pride Media and them. Serpentwithfeet’s full-length version of “You Don’t Own Me” will also be released later this month on all major DSPs.
Songs for Screens is a Variety column sponsored by Anzie Blue, a wellness company and café based in Nashville. It is written by Andrew Hampp, founder of music marketing consultancy 1803 LLC and former correspondent for Billboard. Each week, the column highlights noteworthy use of music in advertising and marketing campaigns, as well as film and TV. Follow Andrew on Twitter at @ahampp.