A kiss before buying.More and more ads are using gay themes to capture audience attention and clinch sales
Two gay men shopping for a dining room table together may not seem like such a surprise these days, but in 1994 it had never before appeared on TV. Swedish retailer Ikea portrayed the first gay couple in a TV commercial, and though it aired briefly in just a few American cities, it became worldwide news.
In the five years since, gays and lesbians have become almost a staple in television programming and movies but have rarely graced mainstream ads. Despite its creative bent, Madison Avenue Madison Avenue, celebrated street of Manhattan, borough of New York City. It runs from Madison Square (23d St.) to the Madison Bridge over the Harlem River (138th St.). In the 1940s and 50s, some of the major U.S. has remained largely a holdout hold·out
One that withholds agreement or consent upon which progress is contingent.
Noun 1. holdout - a negotiator who hopes to gain concessions by refusing to come to terms; "their star pitcher was a holdout for six in recognizing gays in either advertising or internal business policies. A 1997 survey of 50 ad agencies of varying sizes about their employee policies for gays elicited just nine responses to Washington, D.C.-based Window Corp., a marketing and public relations public relations, activities and policies used to create public interest in a person, idea, product, institution, or business establishment. By its nature, public relations is devoted to serving particular interests by presenting them to the public in the most firm specializing in the gay market. Only three recognized same-sex couples for benefits, and five had an inclusive nondiscrimination policy.
Nonetheless, a number of advertisers are beginning to find a comfort level with gay themes, which are becoming increasingly common. The motive is not really to snag the much-touted gay dollar but to use the cachet cachet /ca·chet/ (ka-sha´) a disk-shaped wafer or capsule enclosing a dose of medicine.
An edible wafer capsule used for enclosing an unpleasant-tasting drug. that gay seems to add to certain brands.
"Awareness and acceptance of gay men and lesbians is now at a point where many forward-thinking advertisers are positioning their products as being young and hip" by using gay themes, says Howard Buford, president of Prime Access Inc. His New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of ad agency serves minority markets for American Express American Express (NYSE: AXP), sometimes known as "AmEx" or "Amex", is a diversified global financial services company, headquartered in New York City. The company is best known for its credit card, charge card and traveler's cheque businesses. Financial Services The examples and perspective in this article or section may not represent a worldwide view of the subject.
Please [ improve this article] or discuss the issue on the talk page. , AT&T, and others.
In some cases a gay theme is used for comic effect. Early this year New York City-based Daily Soup restaurants started running a local commercial on the Comedy Central cable network about a woman meeting a blind date in the park. She sits next to an attractive, bookish book·ish
1. Of, relating to, or resembling a book.
2. Fond of books; studious.
3. Relying chiefly on book learning: man whom she thinks may be her date until he's met by a biker guy who grabs his butt and plants a big kiss on him.
Peter Siegel, president of the new chain, says the theme was no issue because "we live in New York, and we're a button-pushing kind of company." The company plans to open locations soon in Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., and the gay TV ad may resurface re·sur·face
v. re·sur·faced, re·sur·fac·ing, re·sur·fac·es
To cover with a new surface: resurfacing a road; resurfaced the floor.
v.intr. in those cities. Siegel says he thinks his customers are as open-minded as he is, the kind of attribute he seeks in a customer because "soup as a meal is new as a concept, and we're asking people to pay $4 to $6 for it."
In other cases gay images appear in ads precisely because they remain surprising--even shocking--to some viewers. Virgin Cola Virgin Cola is a carbonated cola soft drink produced by Princes limited. It was launched in 1994. History
Virgin Cola was set up during the early 1990s in conjunction with Cott, a Canadian company that specialises in bottling own-label drinks. ran the first TV commercial with a gay kiss as part of its "Say Something" campaign, which debuted last summer. Despite refusals by stations in each of six markets (including San Francisco San Francisco (săn frănsĭs`kō), city (1990 pop. 723,959), coextensive with San Francisco co., W Calif., on the tip of a peninsula between the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay, which are connected by the strait known as the Golden , New York, and Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850. ) to carry it, the ad aired on 32 stations.
The cola is the latest venture for Virgin, which was started by British billionaire Richard Branson Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson (born 18 July 1950. The company has long been gay-friendly; Virgin Atlantic Airways was the first airline to solicit the gay market. Branson built the brand with strong public relations campaigns and by doing the unexpected. "We're going into [business] categories where there is a monopoly or in Shamley Green, Surrey, England), is a British entrepreneur, best known for his Virgin brand of over 360 duopoly Duopoly
A situation in which two companies own all or nearly all of the market for a given type of product or service.
This is very similar to a monopoly, where only one company dominates the market. ," says Brenda Ross, vice president of marketing for Virgin Cola. "Our ads are a little bit irreverent, cheeky, and take some of the serious fuddy-duddiness away from it." The new cola is now available in California and New England, with New York and Washington, D.C., rollouts planned for this year.
Fashion has always been more on advertising's cutting edge, using sex to get noticed. Now homosexuality is considered the perfect means to get people's attention. Though isolated examples have appeared in the past--Italian fashion brand Diesel used former pair Bob Paris and Rod Jackson in a dramatic lip lock years ago for its jeans line--more and more fashion companies are turning to gay images in their ads, forming a critical mass in the industry.
Italian fashion house Dolce dol·ce Music
adv. & adj.
In a gentle and sweet manner. Used chiefly as a direction.
[From Italian, sweet, from Latin dulcis.]
Adv. 1. & Gabbana run print ads in February that featured two young men lounging on a couch. One kisses the other's neck from behind, and the two wear matching rings on their wedding fingers. The campaign is about different types of couples and included a similar ad with two women as well, one of the few overtly lesbian images to appear in advertising.
"When Stefano [Gabbana] and Domenico [Dolce] go out, they see a lot of kids being so natural about it," says Justo Artigas, fashion director for Dolce & Gabbana. "It should not be a taboo thing."
But it isn't just the newer companies that are making the effort. Levi Strauss & Co., the established but financially troubled denim maker, is also part of the trend and by far the biggest advertiser to employ a gay theme in mainstream TV ads. Last fall, to reconnect with fickle youth tastes swinging more toward Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, the company introduced a campaign of interviews with real teenagers. One commercial in the group included an awkward young man who admitted to being gay while explaining that the neighbors didn't like him.
"We wanted to give youth a voice," says Danny Kraus, a spokesman for the company. "They were saying some profound and humorous things." Despite Levi's being based in San Francisco and having gay-friendly employee policies for years, this was the first time Levi ventured into gay themes on TV.
In fact, the company is just beginning to get comfortable with the gay market. Though the company had run its mainstream ads for a while in the gay press, its first gay-specific effort began only last November. It was an advertising insert for Dockers
Dockers is a brand of Levi Strauss & Co.
Levi Strauss & Co. featuring photo profiles of ten openly gay heroes, such as gay former New Jersey Boy Scout leader James Dale.
According to Buford, "Levi got so much mileage out of its employee policies that they didn't have to" include gays in its ads before.
There are also many ads that, if not overfly o·ver·fly
tr.v. o·ver·flew , o·ver·flown , o·ver·fly·ing, o·ver·flies
1. To fly over (a particular area or territory) in an aircraft or spacecraft.
2. gay, seem at least gay-vague. Volkswagen's "Da, Da, Da" commercial features two young men who pick up and then discard a chair they find on the curbside; gay viewers mostly see the pair as a couple, while straight viewers are more likely to think of the pair as just roommates. Clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch's tempting quarterly magazine has become the late-1990s de rigueur gay coffee-table item, replacing the International Male catalog. The ongoing parade of increasingly nude college hunks hunks
pl.n. (used with a sing. verb)
A disagreeable and often miserly person.
[Origin unknown.] in Abercrombie & Fitch's black-and-white ads strike many gay men as aimed directly at them.
Perhaps looking to recapture the attention it received from an early-1990s ad in Vanity Fair that included a gay couple, retail clothier Banana Republic ran a holiday TV ad last year that showed a circle of models' heads turning back and forth to kiss each other at the end. You could easily miss it, but in an instant two guys' lips meet.
It hardly looks to be the last gay kiss, at least until gay kisses don't grab anyone's attention anymore. "For fashion and new brands, it's a way to be a little more provocative right now," says Foote, Cone, and Belding ad agency senior creative director John Colquhoun, who created the Daily Soup ad. Gay themes "are not so mainstream that people ignore them but mainstream enough now to be OK. Eventually Madison Avenue had to address what was happening in society."
Wilke has written for Advertising Age and The New York Times and travels with his video presentation "The Corporate Closet."