The New Normal – LGBT marketing going Mainstream

Unless you’ve been stranded on a desert island somewhere without a television, magazine or smartphone at your beck and call, you’ve surely noticed an increase of LGBT-inclusive imagery in traditionally “non-LGBT” mainstream media. 

Brands like Absolut Vodka, Bud Light and Kimpton have been reaching out to the LGBT community for years with ads featuring good looking same sex couples in swanky locales. It was nice to see, yet it was so highly segregated, with ads running only in LGBT media like OUT, Here TV, Curve, or Instinct. An appreciated effort for sure, but was this approach somewhat “separate but equal?” We do exist outside of the gayborhood after all…

Lately, the trend of including LGBT people only in highly-targeted LGBT media seems to be changing.  Last year, Cheerios made waves by releasing their wonderful “Cheerios Effect” campaign including a touching video on YouTube featuring two dads and their daughter that went viral overnight, inducing lots of tears; and HoneyMaid’s timely tweet in response to Indiana’s “Religious Freedom” act sure made many of us want to go out and make some S’mores. (Their “love” follow-up to the letters they received was even better!) These were all great campaigns that stood out and went viral because they were authentic and reflected the changing attitudes and diversity that is true in America today; but they still used the targeted Internet space as their medium and the social exposure seemed to concentrate in LGBT circles.

Despite the positive feedback, brands still weren’t featuring this content in their expensive, “mainstream” media buys.

Today, that’s all starting to change. Recently, we’ve started to see an even stronger type of inclusivity in advertising that is really amazing. Brands like Tiffany & Co. are running an ad in mainstream magazines like Conde Nast Traveler, featuring the marriage proposal of a real-life gay couple. This Wells Fargo commercial shows a lesbian couple learning sign language in preparation for meeting their adopted daughter for the first time – a gorgeous little Hispanic girl who is deaf (How is THAT for diversity!) that aired during primetime on National Networks!  Earlier in the year, there was the Hallmark Holiday Central telling the love story of a lesbian couple, and Sabra has started running an ad that presents several couples chatting about their favorite hummus. One of those couples just happens to be gay.

While seeing all of this inclusivity in advertising recently, it’s hard not to wonder… Is including LGBT people in mainstream advertising campaigns a reflection of the increase of LGBT acceptance in America? Or are these corporations pushing the envelope and helping drive equality forward by taking a controversial risk? It’s likely a bit of both, but regardless, it’s clearly movement in the right direction and we look forward to seeing what the second half of 2015 brings!

Obviously there’s still a place for content that is targeted at the LGBT community; that’s why we created .LGBT – so websites could appeal to the community, even right down to the level of their web address! But if this year has been any indication, showing inclusivity of LGBT people in ads alongside their straight counterparts will be the “new normal” and we think that is a step in the right direction! 

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Posted on Date:
Wednesday, June 10, 2015