Ad Library Overview


What is a "gay" ad? What's in the Ad Library?

Our collection focuses on mainstream corporate advertising and its incredible power to affect how the Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender community is perceived. We collect worldwide corporate ads with direct references to GLBT people or a GLBT theme, including political ads and those from government and health agencies, nonprofits, gay and anti-gay organizations.

Some references may not actually involve a gay person, just the idea of homosexuality or transgender. This may include cross-gender dressing, "inappropriate" gender behavior, references to male-male rape, gay sexual practice, and some same-gender physical contact/interaction.

Cultural perspectives on what constitutes homosexuality versus friendship vary greatly; our bias is through an American "lens." At our discretion, we collect some "gay vague" material -- where sexuality is unclear and may allow for gay interpretations.

The project also comprehensively tracks (but does not rate) print and internet ads in gay media. Also, there are a handful of parody commercials from shows like "Saturday Night Live" and "MadTV." We welcome old advertising and unaired "spec" ads.


Which ad agencies are most prolific on CommercialCloset.org?

DDB Needham is the tops -- with 85 ads total, including 43 for Mainstream viewers 37 for Gay audiences, 5 for dual audiences. Other top agencies making the most GLBT-themed commercials include TBWA Worldwide (52), Leo Burnett (46), Y&R (42), BBDO (40), Lowe & Partners (37), McCann Erickson (32), JWT (32), Saatchi Saatchi (28), Publicis (22), and Euro RSCG (20). The remaining top producers of gay-targeted ads are: Leo Burnett (21), TBWA Worldwide (16), Y&R (14), Euro RSCG (10), McCann Erickson (7), Grey (8), and Publicis (7).


What's not in the collection?

We do not collect ads that are mere "beefcake" or homoerotic ads of interest to gay men only for their sex-appeal, or AIDS/HIV ads without GLBT references. We do not collect pornographic ads or gay film ads. As a rule, we don't collect small-business ads.


NOTE: Our ratings are NOT intended to assess the likeability or entertainment value of ads, nor are they supposed to inspire or reflect "offense" by or for the entire GLBT community. The are intended as an attempt to assess what the imagery/narrative conveys about gayness and transgender -- both perceived by audiences and intended by the advertiser.

Ratings, by nature, are more art than science, as there are many ways to read ad messages, and not everyone will agree with the project's editorial conclusions. Indeed, oftentimes other issues are raised as well, including sexism, racism, etc. which are not the focus of this project (despite their importance). We don't mean to imply there is only one "correct" interpretation, but we want to encourage debate and greater reflection overall. We encourage you to take a deeper look at the way ads are intended and how they are received -- in their time and place of airing, with regard to our evolving views -- by yourself as well as others.