When Deutsch created an ad for IKEA in 1994 that had the first same-sex couple in mainstream advertising, you didn’t have very many chances to see it—it ran once and was pulled from the air because of threats. 18 years later, with more than half of Americans now supporting same sex marriage, a lot more advertisers are trying to reach the gay market.
Well, some of them. A plethora of major brands have already released ads on-line, in print, or on television, to mostly positive reactions. If anyone has been following Chick Fil’ A, they can see the damage a negative view about the gay market can cause to a brand. It looks like the world of advertising is shifting in a new direction, but is it ready for this estimated $835 billion market?
Now it appears that America is more willing to see gay people on the day-to-day. Will and Ellen are not the only gay people on television anymore; from family shows like Glee to teen dramas like Pretty Little Liars, the market is saturated (kind of).
While the atmosphere isn’t perfect, advertising has definitely become more comfortable since 1994 sending out not just gay-friendly but gay-supportive advertising. One thing to note is that these advertisers and companies are not just targeting a gay audience but also gay-rights supporters, a large group of people otherwise known as half of the United States.
Keeping all of this in mind, I want to leave you all with some food for thought about the gay and lesbian market. Although it is a rapidly evolving market due to social attitudes and legislation it’s good to remember these points:
- Gays and Lesbians are a dynamic market composed of a variety of identities represented in different religions, races, creeds, buying habits and occupations. So don’t just target people who look like the couple in Modern Family.
- Just about every major U.S. city holds a Pride celebration every year that host thousands of people, which can be a great way for brands to show their support and get to know their audiences. They are also really fun.
- They have more disposable income then the average consumer, since they’re typically DINKS (Dual income, no kids). This is changing, however, as U.S. census data reveals that more same-sex couples are starting families.
- Different studies cite that gays and lesbians are on average spending more than their straight counterparts on cable and satellite TV, alcohol, and travel.
- Gays and lesbians are more likely to buy a product with the knowledge of a company’s diversity policies. So if yours is not great, work on that first before trying to reach that market.
Smart advertisers recognize the profit in this market. That being said, I think point 5 in the list above is important to remember. As we have seen with recent PR issues surrounding certain CEOs and their spending habits, it’s important to not just see money with this market but to see people.