Gay-Themed Ads Are Becoming More Mainstream
Posted by: Lowie Jim Palisoc
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Is Coke gay friendly or not?
Posted by: Mike Wilke
Coca-Cola earned a perfect 100 from the Human Rights Campaign in the US and just debuted a commercial in the UK featuring a gay wedding. But it cut the wedding scene for the commercial in Ireland and has chosen to sponsor the winter Olympics in Russia, which is coming under heavy fire for its new anti-gay law and indifference to homophobic violence.
James Franco Dropped By Advertising Campaigns Over His Gay Themed Films
Posted by: Adam Stazer
In a red carpet interview last week at SXSW, James Franco suggested that he has been dropped from three advertising campaigns due to his involvement in two gay-oriented films he put out at Sundance, and not due to his image as the companies reported. He produced Kink and co-directed and starred in a forthcoming Travis Matthews film, Interior.Leather Bar. Franco suggested that this exemplifies the homophobia that still exists in American media. As many advertisers have already begun to notice, gays and lesbians will only continue to become an increasingly visible part of American society. While the exact reason for Franco having been dropped from these campaigns is unclear at this time, the depiction of raw gay sexuality as portrayed in these films was no doubt part of the conversation. Other explicit films depicting heterosexual sex rarely if ever raise an eyebrow among the public, and neither should these.
|Lexus Parks Next to Scion, Toyota Gets In Gear With Gays
by Michael Wilke
America's top selling luxury brand, Lexus, has parked itself in gay media for the first time, joining its edgy sister Toyota-owned brand Scion, already in the market for nearly three years.
The arrival of Lexus means that the top three luxury vehicle marques, including DamilerChrysler's Mercedes and General Motors Corporation's Cadillac, are seeking gay buyers. The fourth player, Lincoln, from Ford Motor Co., has not yet specifically done so and is the only one whose sales are in steep decline.
However, in the May issue of OUT Ford advertised all eight of its nameplates for the first time to underscore its support of the gay community, following conservative demands that it withdraw its gay advertising. The new Ford print ad shows photo albums emphasizing brand legacy, with a modern photo of each car and years they were "born," including shots of Henry Ford.
"Toyota is more aware than ever of marketing to all types of groups," says Brian Bolain, national advertising and media manager for Lexus. "It gave the company the right mindset to move forward."
Bolain, a 20-year Toyota employee, lead Lexus into the gay market. "Being gay myself, I'm aware of how critical the market and its income are. I've got all that hardwired into me," he says. "There's a predisposition in our community towards luxury goods, so why shouldn't Lexus be among them?"
Scion Rolls On In Gay Media
Unlike the safe advertising and design of Toyotas, Scion was a bolder concept meant to appeal to youth. First introduced nationally in mid-2004, the urban-focused Scion simultaneously arrived in online gay media. Bolain had a role in that too, at the time. "It was a very active decision on our part to have a presence in the gay market, because GLBT people are interested in new things," he says.
Adds Deborah Senior, national marketing communications manager, "The Scion brand is about personalization, we celebrate people who enjoy accessorizing their vehicles." Thus, the brand advertising tries to reach people who are "creative, innovative, and influential."
After starting with online ads, Scion has focused on alternative gay media publications, forgoing The Advocate and OUT for Instinct and smaller titles, with a fold-out spread emphasizing its square shape and bold colors. The brand also sponsored pride parades in Los Angeles and San Francisco, as well as the Seventh Annual PlanetOut Short Movie Awards in Miami last year.
Neither Lexus nor Scion have yet used dedicated gay market creative, instead opting for product-focused general market ads. It's a common advertising creative strategy among car companies to avoid depicting people in ads, so that no one feels unrepresented.
Toyota, Saatchi Develop Advertising Review Panels
Toyota and its dedicated ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi, Los Angeles, might be a little gun shy about gay market creative. A 2001 incident with a postcard ad showed a close-up of an African-American smile featuring a Toyota RAV4 sport utility vehicle carved into the gold cap of a front tooth. Rev. Jesse Jackson denounced it and threatened boycott.
In response, both Toyota and Saatchi's LA office created separate ad review panels intended to catch minority-insensitive ads. Toyota's group has two-year terms for seven volunteers representing GLBT and other minority concerns, meeting nine times annually to review ads for all Toyota brands in the U.S.
Beth Henning, national manager of strategies and communications, explains that the Cultural Diversity Panel is not made of advertising experts and they don't try to rewrite ads but point out possible problems. Ad executives "will go back and relook at it. They have the option to say, 'Thank you very much, we're willing to take a risk on this one,' and make the business decision. But typically, they make an adjustment."
Most of the time, things go smoothly, "Especially with Lexus, so much is just about the product, but sometimes a headline is off-color," she says. "We don't catch a lot, but what we do catch is worthwhile." A questionable 2004 Toyota Truck commercial, featuring men who preferred to let their friend die than suck the venom out of his neck, came prior to GLBT participation in the review panel.
The review panel is assisted by Toyota's ongoing consumer research. Although sexual orientation isn't requested, some participants volunteer the information, Henning says.
Saatchi's similarly named Cultural Sensitivity Panel operates independently of Toyota's, and is made up of six people who meet weekly for up to six months, but there is no minority representation quota. Its stated goal is "honoring ethnic diversity, cultural sensitivity and avoiding negative public controversy within the work we do by identifying potential 'triggers'."
Toyota Camry is the country's most popular vehicle for the fourth year consecutively, will it join Lexus and Scion trying to pick up gay buyers? "Everything Toyota does is in small steps," notes Bolain. "Scion was a small step, Lexus is another small step."\n