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Do Gay Themed Ads Help Brands?


504x_STARTMOBILE_iphonePress_PRIDE-thumbMarketing works best when the target audience is identified and the message is refined to connect with that audience.

We’ve seen targeted marketing by gender, race, ethnicity, geography, sport, social-strata…but now we’re even getting it by sexual orientation.  Really?

Do the benefits of 99.9% change appreciably if sold to a gay audience as opposed to a heterosexual audience? Didn’t think so.

Just the same it looks like the trend towards gratuitous gay marketing is about to hit new levels.

Take Amazon’s new Kindle Paperwhite commercial. The attractive man and woman having a poolside chat about e-readers are both married—to men. The ad is not the first to feature same-sex couples, but it is likely the first on mainstream TV that uses the word “husband” to refer to a gay man’s partner.

Brands such as IKEA, American Apparel, Gap, Levis, Google and JCPenney have run ads featuring gays. Even John Hancock Financial Services featured lesbians in a 2000 ad – it’s rumored the original John Hancock was spinning in his grave on that one.

Oddly enough these brands try it – once and that’s about the end of it.

Here’s where brands get tempted to target the gay audience – the buying power of American LGBT consumers last year was $790 billion (whatever LGBT stands for).

But brand managers and marketers need to take a deep breath before jumping headlong into gay marketing. Does the brand really serve a different purpose whether the customer is gay or straight? Does the value proposition change? Are the benefits different? Didn’t think so.

It’s about attention-getting. Attention-getting is good for marketers. But only if attention-getting in a good way…I’m not convinced this is the case here.


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