Gay Ads with Gay Content on the Rise
By David Morse, President and CEO, New American Dimensions, LLC
Companies are spending more on the gay and lesbian market and ads are more gay-specific in content than ever before, according to the results of the twelfth annual Gay Press Report, a publication compiled by Prime Access Inc. and Rivendell Media Company.
To produce the report, the companies analyzed April editions of the 151 titles comprising the U.S. gay and lesbian press. April was used, as has been done in years past, because it tends to be a representative average of the year’s advertising activity. A total of 311 April issues were reviewed, since many titles publish more than once a month.
Some of the findings include:
- Ad spending in the gay and lesbian press reached a record $212.3 million, a growth of 189 percent since 1996, representing 12.5 percent annually. In contrast, growth for all consumer magazines in the same period was only 42 percent, four percent annually.
- Gay-specific ads comprised over half of all ads in the gay and lesbian press. Just three years ago, gay-specific content made up fewer than 10 percent of all ads.
- Over 175 Fortune 500 brands advertised in 2005, up from 150 a year ago, and just 19 in 1994. The most popular categories among these brands were travel, financial services, automotive, fashion and entertainment.
- In national gay and lesbian magazines, the percentage of gay-specific ads was 74.1 percent up from 59.1 percent last year. According to the authors, this is “a clear indication that the majority of national brands marketing to the gay and lesbian audience are creating unique advertising executions that appeal directly to these consumers’ sensibilities and mindset.”
- The combined circulation of all gay and lesbian publications in 2005 was 3,420,555.
Moderator’s Comment: Can marketers afford to ignore gay and lesbian consumers? Should they be worried about backlash?
According to Packaged Facts’ 2004 study of the LGBT market, there were 15 million openly gay and lesbian adults living in the United States with a purchasing
power of $581 billion. That’s about seven percent of the entire adult population, a few percentage points shy of the proverbial one-in-ten concept popularized by Kinsey.
Studies such as the one conducted by Packaged Facts indicate that gays and lesbians are fiercely loyal to companies that advertise to the gay community,
have gay friendly corporate policies and donate to gay and lesbian causes. And as Coors found out some years ago, alienating gays can have drastic financial consequences – gays
boycotted Coors for years because of the conservatism of the Coors family. Coors is now one of the largest spenders in the LGBT market.
Still, backlash can be a reality. In April, George Anderson reported in RetailWire that Wal-Mart had been under attack by the American Family Association
(AFA), a conservative Christian organization, for selling Brokeback Mountain. It argued that by stocking the movie, Wal-Mart was “trying to help normalize homosexuality in society.”
Wal-Mart’s response: We won’t quit you.
In the words of philosopher George Santayana, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” In the 1950’s, Philip Morris faced a boycott
when they sponsored a beauty contest that was won by a Black girl. When the Nat King Cole Show was canceled in 1957, Cole was quoted as saying “Madison Avenue…didn’t want
their products associated with Negroes.”
Gays and lesbians, like African Americans, know what it is like to be excluded by the mainstream. That is why it is so appreciated when companies take a
stand. – David Morse – Moderator