Does Your Company Go Both Ways?

Last Updated Aug 23, 2007 4:17 PM EDT

gaybillboard.jpgThere's an interesting post on MSNBC's Ads of the Weird blog today about Levi's 501 jeans and their latest commercial, made in two versions: one that brings a mystery woman to the man in 501s -- for straight audiences -- and one with a mystery man -- for gay audiences. The gay rendition currently airs on MTV's Logo, a gay-and-lesbian targeted channel, but Levi Strauss & Co. is planning to integrate the commercial into programming geared to both gay and straight audiences. It isn't necessarily interesting that Levi's is advertising to gay consumers by speaking their language -- it's that it took so long for the company to do it.

Levi's VP of marketing Robert Cameron said:

"I think what's surprising is how long it's taken us to get there. Just to put (a commercial) on a gay-targeted channel like Logo that actually reflects the people who are watching it shouldn't be such a radical notion. It really shouldn't be."
It shouldn't be, but it is -- or Levi's would have done it already.

Considering that gay spending power is set to hit $2 trillion by 2012, it's shocking some companies aren't capitalizing. Perhaps some of them fear advertising to homosexuals will alienate their straight supporters.

Global Outage, a GLBT marketing and events blog, speaks to this reluctance, presenting the following facts:

  • Based on survey results, 82 percent of straight consumers would not feel alienated if a company advertises to the gay community
  • Harris Interactive found that 49 percent of lesbian and gay respondents agreed with the statement "I prefer to buy everyday products and brands that target gays and lesbians over competing brands that do not."
  • 47 percent of lesbian and gay respondents agreed with the statement "I trust brands more if I have seen them advertised in gay media."
While Levi's represents a faction that's been dragging its feet in marketing to the gay community, it doesn't speak for US business, as a whole. PR Web released a report in June that showed ad spending in the gay media reached $222.3 million in 2006, an increase of 205 percent since 1996. Howard Buford, founder and president of Prime Access, Inc., said:
"This year's report confirms how, in just one decade, gay and lesbian consumers have gone from an overlooked niche to an audience that Fortune 500 companies are working overtime to reach. The numbers make it clear that corporate America recognizes and values both the spending power and influence of gay consumers."
Some companies are capitalizing and some companies are testing the waters; some will have a slice of $223 million and some won't. Where does your company stand?

(Gay Billboard Image by avlxyz)