Home | Extra Times | Travel | NEWS OF THE WORLD: Ads out of the closet, into mainstream with gay themes

NEWS OF THE WORLD: Ads out of the closet, into mainstream with gay themes

Font size: Decrease font Enlarge font
image This image from video shows a scene from a Kindle Paperwhite commercial

Welcome to the latest in gay imagery in mainstream advertising, where LGBT people have been waiting for a larger helping of fairness, or at least something other than punchlines and cliches. Leanne Italie, in New York, is watching the change

A new TV commercial features a good-looking young woman on a beach vacation lounging next to a good-looking young man. He bemoans the glare on his iPad and she fills him in on the Kindle Paperwhite’s sun-friendly screen.
He clicks to buy one himself and suggests they celebrate with a drink.
“My husband’s bringing me a drink right now,” chirps she.
“So is mine,” smiles he as they turn and wave at their male loved ones sitting together at a tiki bar.
While there are still plenty cliches in mainstream ads, something has happened in advertising over the last two or three years, nearly two decades after Ikea broke ground in the U.S. with a TV spot featuring a gay couple shopping for a dining room table — a spot that ran only once in New York and Washington, D.C., and was pulled after bomb threats to Ikea stores.
Today, gay and lesbian parents and their kids are featured — along with pitchwoman Ellen DeGeneres — in J.C. Penney ads. Same-sex couples have their own, advertised wedding registries at Macy’s and elsewhere and President Barack Obama offered his seal of approval by evolving into a supporter of gay marriage.
Two happy young men sit together eating at a dining table, with wine and romantic candlelight, in a section of a Crate & Barrel catalog marked “Us & Always.” And we made it through a Super Bowl without any gay jokes at commercial breaks — like the Snickers ad of several years ago featuring two men freaking out after kissing by accident while eating one of the candy bars.
Traditionally lagging behind TV and film content in terms of LGBT inclusion, advertisers in this country are facing considerably less trouble than they used to when taking on gay themes, observers said. Penney’s rebuffed critics and launched a lesbian-focused catalog ad for Mother’s Day that the company followed with a two-dads family — a real family — for Father’s Day.
DeGeneres, who married Portia de Rossi in 2008, continues as a CoverGirl in magazines. Also recently? A lesbian couple was treated to fireworks in a commercial — real ones flash on screen — for K-Y Intense, a personal lubricant that makes their moment or two more memorable. They’re shown spent and satisfied in bed, hair tussled. “Good purchase,” one says to the other.
Though Crate & Barrel declined comment for this story and Amazon didn’t respond to email requests for the same about the Kindle ad, LGBT-focused marketers and monitors think the Mad Men and Women of today’s Madison Avenue and the companies that employ them might finally be getting it. Now, they hope, a greater degree of diversity in skin tone and ethnicity will follow.
“They’re no longer just targeting gay and lesbian people. They’re targeting people like my mom, who want to know that a company embraces and accepts their gay and lesbian family members, friends and neighbors,” said Rich Ferraro, a spokesman for the media watchdog group the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).
Others, too, are celebrating the newfound bump in ad visibility, a mirror of cultural gains overall. It’s a boost that comes as the U.S. Supreme Court takes up oral arguments later this month in key challenges that could lead to further recognition of same-sex marriage and spousal benefits.
Bob Witeck, who consults for Fortune 100 companies on LGBT marketing and communications strategies, put the buying power of U.S. lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adults at $790 billion last year. He estimated, roughly, the U.S. LGBT adult population at 16 million, though others say their ranks could be as many as 25 million.
There’s no demographic evidence or social science that points to the LGBT segment as notably higher earning or wealthier than anybody else, though they’re often louder in protesting offensive ad messaging and loyal to brands and companies that support them.
“Things have changed significantly in terms of risk and reward,” Witeck said. “Businesses don’t view this as a risk model any longer.”
Particularly, he said, when it comes to portraying marriage.
“Marriage, at one time, was the third rail,” Witeck said. “That terrified companies. Most of this happened when the president said he supported marriage equality.”
A consumer lust for “truth-telling” isn’t lost on major advertisers, including those that once restricted themselves to trotting out gay-friendly fodder as one-offs when Pride Month and its multicolored flag flies freely each June. One recent pride standout in advertising, restricted to digital markets, is an Oreo cookie with a mountain of multicolored filling.
The company fielded queries from consumers who thought it was available for purchase in stores. It wasn’t.
American Airlines, in 2010, ran outdoor advertising at bus stops and subway stations in New York showing two men on a beach with the slogan: “Here’s to his and his beach towels.Proud to support the community that supports us.”
Generally, Witeck said, putting a human face on gay couples and families in advertising is where much of the effort lands today.
“For the gay consumer and their families and friends, and lots and lots and lots of Americans, they expect to see those couples appear everywhere, but they don’t want them trotted out with a pride flag,” Witeck said. “Amazon didn’t ballyhoo the message. They just landed it.”
Mark Elderkin, CEO of the Gay Ad Network, which focuses on the LGBT niche market, said mainstream gay messaging has “passed the tipping point, where there’s more to gain than there is to lose” for advertisers.
While there are groups of “vocal antagonists,” he said more advertisers bolstered by broader media exposure for gay characters and storylines in non-ad content — “The New Normal,” “Modern Family,” “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” CNN’s out-of-the-closet anchor Anderson Cooper — have explored non-traditional families and included LGBT imagery in “normal” settings.
“It seems to be moving quickly forward. It’s companies that want to be more on the leading edge, more for the next generation of this country,” Elderkin said. “It’s not your parents’ brand anymore. It’s your brand and your kids’ brand.” AP

Tagged as:

No tags for this article
  • Email to a friend Email to a friend
  • Print version Print version

Subscribe to comments feed Comments (1 posted)

Iliyas 08/06/2014 19:44:54
Luchino ViscontiLuchino Visconti's film career spnnaed over four decades, making him a key force in 20th-century Italian cinema. However, it was in Paris that his career began when he befriended the fashion designer Coco Chanel, who introduced him to Jean Renoir. Visconti worked with Renoir on various film projects, one of which was the film Une Partie de Campagne (1936), as costume designer and assistant director. During this period, and contrary to his aristocratic upbringing, he became influenced by Marxist ideology, and these beliefs would later shape his own style of film-making.Visconti did not direct his first film until 1942, when he returned to Italy. Ossessione was based on the novel The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M Cain. Visconti's adaptation was unauthorised - which meant the film was rarely screened in the USA - and heavily censored by fascist officials of Mussolini's regime. Despite all its difficulties, it remained a success in Italy and is regarded as the first film of the Italian neo-realist movement.Visconti's political leanings were expressed in his second film La Terra Trema (The Earth Trembles) (1947), which tells the story of class exploitation in a small Sicilian fishing village. This theme continued with the 1960 film, Rocco e i Suoi Fratelli (Rocco and his Brothers).In his later work, Visconti seemed to move away from the neo-realist style towards more historical and literary themes. The battle between progress and nostalgia is constantly fought in this director's work, but towards the end of his career Visconti seemed to favour the latter with a definite air of scepticism about the value of progress.One such film was the cinematic epic Il Gattopardo (The Leopard) (1963), starring Burt Lancaster as the Prince of Salina. By arranging the marriage of Tancredi, his nephew, and Angelica, the daughter of a rich merchant, the Prince attempts to financially rescue and secure the future of his family by joining the old aristocracy with the new money of the bourgeoisie. This film's operatic style was a cross over from Visconti's theatre work.Visconti was openly gay, but few of his films dealt with the issue of male homosexuality. The most notable exception to this was the 1971 film Morte a Venezia (Death In Venice) from the novel by Thomas Mann. Dirk Bogarde plays the lead character, the reserved composer Gustav Aschenbach who, when confronted with the purity and beauty of a young boy, played by Bjorn Andresen, allows the secret passion within him, his homosexuality, to awaken.Visconti returns to the topic of the aristocracy in the melodrama L'Innocente (The Intruder) (1976). This was to be his final film. As a result of the strokes he suffered in 1972 and 1974, which left him completely paralysed, Visconti died at the age of 70 before editing was completed.During his life, Visconti had made over 20 films, many of which are considered cinematic masterpieces, directed plays by Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams, and staged ballets and operas, such as La Vestale (1954) and La Sonnambula (1955), starring Maria Callas."Visconti's death marked the end of an era of Italian cinema*****; - Geoffrey Nowell-Smith
total: 1 | displaying: 1 - 1

Post your comment

Please enter the code you see in the image:


Responsible Right of Expression — In the interest of freedom of expression, coupled with a true sense of responsibility to encourage community dialogue, the Macau Daily Times offers its readers the opportunity to express their opinions on new-related matters through this website. All opinions are welcome. However, we reserve the right to remove comments that are deemed to be obscene, or are merely insults written under the cloak of anonymity. MDT