OUT Publisher on LGBT Marketing Post-SCOTUS
In an historic ruling handed down by the Supreme Court of the United States on June 26, 2015, marriage equality became the law of the land. With same-sex couples now afforded equal marriage rights, Fortune 500 companies have increased their efforts to target their marketing and advertising to the LGBT community. Earlier this year, Tiffany & Co. debuted its “Will You” campaign featuring a same-sex couple. More recently, a Wells Fargo ad featured a lesbian couple adopting a daughter and the Maytag man tweeted his support for LGBT equality.
As LGBT Pride Month concluded at the end of June, numerous other companies joined the ranks of those creating inclusive marketing and advertising imagery. Here’s how the advertising landscape has changed during my 25 years working in LGBT media:
An Evolution in Imagery Targeting the LGBT Community
In the mid-’90s, marketers were interested in targeting the LGBT segment, but didn’t want to be totally “out” about it. There were a series of campaigns that launched, which I now call “gay vague.” Typically, it was less about showing same-sex relationships and more about subtle references to LGBT culture, such as rainbow colored paraphernalia that the LGBT audience would easily recognize. This kept brands a bit insulated from the mainstream market when engaging the LGBT segment.
Although it may sound cowardly today, in retrospect it was quite empowering at the time. In large part, brands targeting this market were from the travel, alcohol and automotive segments. Clearly, the marketplace has opened up much further to include nearly all consumer product goods and services with a very direct approach. Most LGBT consumers today respond in a stronger fashion to brands that take a bold approach and speak directly to who they are as people and as a diverse community.
Related story: How to Be a Welcome Marketer at LGBT Weddings