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Companies: Out of the Closet and into the Ads

By       Message Susan Benjamin     Permalink
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Companies are finally out of the closet where gays and lesbians are concerned. Take Levis: in their recent 501 Jeans campaign, created by ad agency Bartle Bogel Hagerty, we find a young man slipping on a pair of Levis when BAM! a date comes crashing through the floor, so hunk-like he belongs on the cover of a romance novel (and probably is, if the hunk's agent is any good.) He takes off the jeans, the guy vanishes. On-and the date reappears "-off and"---well, you get the picture.

Levis is also sponsoring a block of programming on the gay and lesbian network, Logo. Think: Kraft Music Hall of the old days only this one, dubbed "Logo Unbuttoned"- targets couples of a different composition.  Other companies who have targeted the homosexual demographic: Chipotle, Hyatt, Subaru and Air Canada--some ads so provocative, you think you're watching adult TV. This demographic is most certainly a good deal for businesses on the prowl for customers. According to Radar Magazine, there are 15 million gays, lesbians, bi-sexual and transgender consumers in the US who account for $641 billion in spending.

But gay and lesbians are increasing ambassadors for decidedly straight brands, too. Take Cover Girl. They chose the out-est and possibly goofiest lesbian in recent times, Ellen DeGeneres, to front their brand. According to the Cover Girl Web site, Ellen has "Smarts, confidence and beauty that flows from the inside out."- She also has edge: her routines include dressing room antics I won't recreate here--check YouTube, for more. Besides, DeGeneres, at the ripe old age of 50, is older than most of the pre-pubescent-looking models that typically grace the pages of fashion magazines: a real attraction for boomer women, straight or lesbian, looking for better skin.

Sadly, DeGeneres is an exception. Most of the ads stereotype gays and lesbians almost as much as your basic homophobe, but in an entirely different way. The models are typically young, gorgeous and engaged or about to be engaged in sex. Even the products have a decidedly sexual bent: Subaru's stick shift and Air Canada's jet are more phallic than the real thing.  Nary a baby boomer, parent, or professional appears in the ads; in fact, they suggest that gayness is about nothing more than sex. If the representation were true, their demographic wouldn't spend enough time working to afford their products. Go figure.

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www.thegreatervoice.com
Marketing expert, author, and talk radio host of The Greater Voice Susan F. Benjamin reaches thousands of listeners throughout the world each week. Articles by and about Susan have appeared in publications including The Wall Street Journal, USA (more...)
 

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