What Is The Future Of Same Sex Advertising?

How will brands target LGBT consumers as the social topic of same sex marriage heats up?


Recently, same sex marriage has become a primary political issue for the upcoming American elections, but a handful of brands have been targeting the LGBT demographic even before Obama’s recent announcement supporting gay rights. Some brands are attempting to position themselves as being more edgy while others are simply acting on the cultural reality that homosexuality underscores a lifestyle market for the brand to participate in.

Recall GAP’s latest campaign? The campaign ran on numerous traditional media including print and billboards. This came shortly after J.Crew and Ray Ban’s Never Hide campaigns also featured gay couples. Another controversy developed last year when JC Penney drew criticism (and gained marketshare) for featuring Lesbian mothers in their Mother’s Day catalog. The ad instigated a protest from conservative group One Million Moms, but the protest seem to be helping J.C. Penney in terms of consumer opinion, relative to its rival Kohls.

Images of the campaigns below:

There is mixed evidence in making the case that embracing the LGBTQ community makes perfect business sense. The Huffington Post reported that despite the rise in JC Penney’s BrandIndex,

its stock price has struggled. In early February, when DeGeneres’ hiring became public, JCPenney’s stock sold for $41.42 a share. The stock closed at $34.33 on Friday. In a March 24 report, Zacks Investment Research gave the company a neutral recommendation despite Penney’s measures that included the new ‘fair and square’ pricing strategy.

The social lashback can be damaging, but what are some key take aways from all this:

  • It’s not for everyone. Perhaps it’s more appropriate for brands that are positioned to convey their support for freedom and have a demonstrated ability to be bold.
  • As trend spotters, we also recognize that the dynamics of American families are shifting in many directions. Family is no longer a definitive entity of husband, wife and kids. People that choose to remain single can consider their pets to be family. Same sex couples fall into this trend and are well on their way of becoming a permanent segment of how an American family is defined.
  • Advertisers don’t need to play into obvious stereotypes in order to appeal to the community. GAP’s latest campaign targets same sex couples in a relatively subtle way that is less more readily acceptable by mainstreamers.
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