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Marketing to a group doesn't need to mean endorsement of a group's views.
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Marketing to the Gay Community

Expendable Income

The estimated annual value of the gay and lesbian market is $515 billion. It is estimated that 21% of gay and lesbian households have income greater than $100,000 per year, and 28% have income greater than $50,000 per year.

It is estimated that 62% own a personal computer. An astonishing 71% of gay and lesbian online users have made credit card purchases online.

Because of the failure of gay and lesbian households to reproduce, the gay household has a greater amount of expendable income in comparison to the heterosexual population.

Advertising vs Endorsing

The expendable income of the gay community has not gone unnoticed by corporate America. AT&T, Allstate, American Express, Anheuser Busch, British Airways, Starbucks, Philip Morris, IBM, Subaru - all these companies have announced their commitment to the gay cause by using creatives that either explicitly endorsed homosexuality, or used a creative pandering to the homosexual community.

One website dedicated to archiving gay and lesbian creatives celebrates the current trend:

After generations of invisibility, in these commercials guys actually get their guys and gals get their gals. Kisses and affectionate displays are enjoyed by same-sex couples in the imagery, transgendered persons are a non-issue, Gay Pride is celebrated and some commercials even seem to sell the idea of being "gay" more than the product.
- Commercial Closet

On the same site, one of the TV ads is described:

A hunky, young guy gets ready for work, making a mess all along the way. After his bath, magazines and other articles float in the water. Selecting his clothes, he sniffs then rejects the shirt by tossing it onto the floor.

Meanwhile, a rubber-gloved hand picks up after him. As he runs out the front door, coffee cup in hand, he passes his boyfriend, whom we see for the first time, and the Tammy Wynette tune "Stand by Your Man" swells. He puts the mug atop his car and gets in as his boyfriend wearily waves goodbye, the mug clunks to the ground, and the ad closes with a glass of Guinness beer.

Artfully shot with the help of maverick California-based producer Tony Kaye, the British tabloid press widely reported the planned ad before it aired, to much scandal. Pubs and consumers were shocked that the traditional brand would air a gay ad.

Fearing greater backlash by straight consumers, the TV spot was ultimately dropped by Guinness. Later, the company tried to deny that this spot even existed.

- Commercial Closet

In case you missed it, I'll repeat it with emphasis added:

Artfully shot with the help of maverick California-based producer Tony Kaye, the British tabloid press widely reported the planned ad before it aired, to much scandal. Pubs and consumers were shocked that the traditional brand would air a gay ad.

Fearing greater backlash by straight consumers, the TV spot was ultimately dropped by Guinness. Later, the company tried to deny that this spot even existed.

Despite all the hype, homosexuality is not without controversy. Millions of Americans believe that homosexuality is sinful. Others find the idea of homosexuality to be repugnant. Others, while having no problem with homosexuality per se, are offended by the perceived loose morals of the gay community which endorses promiscuity to the point that entering a public bathroom is taken as an invitation to sex.

Conservative Christians boycott large corporations which endorse homosexual behavior. Even to non-religious folks, the gay affiliation may be enough to turn the consumer on to the competing brand.

Taking a Stand

According to the proponents of marketing to the gay community, it is important for a company to take a stand. The stand, I'm guessing, is one of endorsement of gay rights.

In order to do this, a company should not use the same creative it used in the mainstream media. It needs to use a gay-oriented creative. Preferably one which depicts a gay couple being gay.

In effect, you are being asked by the gay community to sell your integrity. If you want gay business, they say, endorse homosexuality. By some people within the gay community, it's referred to as the commercialization of the gay seal of approval.

It is, in fact, big business. In most metropolitan areas, businesses wishing to do business with the gay community must pay their dues in the form of ad space in the Gay Yellow Pages. Unless you pay up, you're an unrepentant bigot.

I have a slightly different idea about what integrity is. I tend to believe that by pandering to various groups, you're simply showing a lack of integrity. As CEO of V7 Inc, I can say with confidence that our hosting is lifestyle neutral.

And that is true integrity. Commercialization of your politics is not true integrity. It's the furthest thing from integrity.

And this same principle can be applied to any social group. Conservatives, Christians, Whites, Blacks, Asians or Feminists. Pandering is a short term solution to an issue that should never concern a corporation.


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