Altoids distributor Callard & Bowser-Suchard launched a print campaign in 1995 with a ‘50s-esque picture of a muscleman and the headline "Nice Altoids," which hit The Advocate
in February 1998. The brand has had a consistent presence in gay media since it began and has been pleased with its reception.
Sponsorship of gay pride floats for parades in Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles has been another way the brand gets the community’s attention.
Jeff Grace, account executive at media buying unit Starcom, Chicago, notes that while there’s "almost no way to track it, we feel that we’re definitely reaching the market successfully. We’re a small brand and we don’t have lots of money for research. But I get lots of calls from owners of gay bars that want to do promotions with us – that’s a way to tell if we’re still in favor."
Altoids targets a cutting edge audience and winning the gay community’s favor is seen as a good way to inherit its perceived coolness.
"We wanted the hip community and a large and influential part of that is the gay market," says Grace, who estimates that seven out of the last 30 outdoor and print ads are gay-targeted like the "Macho Mint" that pictures the leather man from gay 1970s band The Village People.
"Our ads are speaking to media savvy people," he says. "If we can still entertain that person, then we’re doing well."