Pernod Ricard, Absolut Spada


This ad features the work of Spada -- who created the iconic Gay Pride rings -- and was the first gay-specific creative from Absolut. Non-gay readers were not likely to know the significance of the rainbow colored rings or the artist.

One of the most venerable brands in the gay market, Absolut has had a consistent presence for over 20 years gracing the back covers of gay magazines years before any other major advertiser. Yet for all its recognition in the gay market and longterm presence, Absolut has only done a handful of truly gay-specific ads. But the company has been very involved in gay events, such as the GLAAD Media Awards (sponsored since 1989) and in 2000 it sponsored Absolut Tom, the fall collection of Tom of Finland, a clothing extension of the homoerotic gay artist.

Alcohol is by far the most crowded category in gay marketing, with over 40 brands jostling for attention. Perhaps the most consistent presence has been Seagram's Absolut vodka for over 17 years, but Miller Brewing Co. has also had a mixed presence in gay media since the mid-1970s. Somewhat impervious to early fears of criticism from religious conservatives that other marketers worried about, so-called "sin products" such as alcohol also had something no other marketers did before the 1990s ? an easily quantifiable marketplace: gay bars. They didn't need to do research to find out how much gays purchased their products, they just looked at their sales.

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