Show Gay, Bi, Lesbian & Trans Consumers Some Love (and Respect) and They’ll Show You The Money!

The LGBT community–with an estimated buying power as of 2016 of over one trillion ($1,000,000,000,000.00) dollars the U.S. alone (Forbes)–is a demographic that can’t and won’t be ignored. The gay and lesbian marketplace is as varied and complex as any marketplace. Slapping the gay six-color rainbow on a campaign isn’t enough. In fact, for many, that approach is considered condescending, pandering and an outright insult.

The $1 Trillion Marketing Executives Are Ignoring

A smart campaign requires understanding, political awareness, empathy, and, ideally, a sense of humor. Embrace the LGBTQ marketplace from the inside out, cultivate a mutually supportive relationship, respect our differences and recognize our similarities and you’ll be on your way to earning your fat slice of the LGBTQ$ pie. Words of wisdom and selected case studies below.

10 of the best gay inclusive commercials

Marc Jacobs 2006

“‘If you want to be successful, you have to target,’ stated Tumminello. Gay-and lesbian-oriented magazines may reach a smaller audience, but the value of advertising in them is immense…If an ad runs in People magazine, no one mentions it. But if a fabulous lesbian ad runs in print or on television, you and your friends will probably discuss it over dinner. Can you imagine, having a group of people talk about your ad for three or four minutes? You have to educate people about that difference.’ – Julia Hanna, Marketing to Gay and Lesbian Consumers, Harvard Business School, Working Knowledge For Business Leaders.

Lesad1“Gays and lesbians overall are much more responsive to ads they see in gay-oriented media…The gay/lesbian group is overwhelmingly positive towards gay imagery in commercials.” – Highlights from 2008 Prime Access/PlanetOut Gay and Lesbian Consumer Study

“When conducting market research or forming new mainstream campaigns, LGBT perspectives should be considered and included. Don’t limit yourself to male-targeted research and messages. For example, Subaru surveyed its consumers and found a strong lesbian base.” – LGBT Marketing and Advertising: Best Practices, Ad Respect (formerly Commerical Closet Association)

Absolut Vodka, Expedia and Levi’s have all run campaigns that target the savvy urban dweller with attractive creative, and have taken on gay and lesbian causes in their non-profit work…These types of companies attract the LGBT community because consum­ers realize that these companies are speaking to them,’ adds Odri. ‘They donate to pro-LGBT causes and care about the community.’ If a company doesn’t have a positive perception in the overall community, he points out, it is ‘going to have a challenge.'” – Dianna Dilworth, Case studies in LGBT Marketing, Deliver Magazine, December 8, 2008

07-12-18-advocate-aa “‘There’s a sameness to travel ads, the same faces and couples in stock photography, we thought we’d like to try something more imaginative,’ explains American Airlines spokesman Tim Kincaid. The illustrations intend to capture a ‘wanderlust and to show people traveling with someone they care about. It allowed us to invent our own space and time, and subtly remind people that we’ve been here a long time,’ meaning same-sex couples.” – Michael Wilke, American Airlines Flies First Gay Print Ads, The Commercial Closet, Ad Respect (formerly Commerical Closet Association), January 10, 2008

“‘Most members of the market share a common bond by virtue of their “otherness,” which creates significant marketing opportunities,’ he [Ian Johnson of Out Now Marketing] says. ‘The challenge is to create good gay marketing that works by recognition of both the commonality that exists between gay consumers, while at the same time acknowledging the vast diversity that also exists amongst the group.’ Recognizing that this is easier said than done, he adds: ‘It’s not always straightforward, but good fun nonetheless.'” – Andrew Barker, Same-sex Ads Swim Into Mainstream: Industry embraces buying power of gay market, Variety, April 12, 2007

“Don’t even take your first step toward the LGBT marketplace until you have ensured equality in your hiring practices, and in your company’s treatment of its gay and lesbian employees. Be sure you have earned the gay marketing buy-in at all company levels, from top execs to the line staff who will interact with your LGBT customers (retail salesreps, receptionists, customer service agents, etc. as appropriate).” – CMI’s 3 Steps to Cost-effectively Reach and Serve the Gay & Lesbian Community, Community Marketing, Inc.


Saturn (Automaker)
SaturnLGBT“You’re dealing with very savvy consumers,” he says of the LGBT community. “If you do it without any thought, if you do it wrong, it’s going to backfire on you.” – Anne Stuart, Marketing To GLBT Communities Grows More Sophisticated, Deliver Magazine, May 1, 2009

“Subaru supported LOGO [MTV’s LGBT channel] at launch with a mainstream commercial, “but the novelty of being there wears off for viewers after three months, so we knew we needed custom creative,” notes Nash. After learning that MTV research found 70% of its viewers actively looked forward to ads because many are designed specifically for the network, Nash says, “it entered my head and never left.”…And Subaru customers who aren’t gay respect its outreach to gays, Nash says.” – Michael Wilke, Subaru Adds Custom TV for 10th Year of Gay Marketing, Ad Respect (formerly Commerical Closet Association)

Auto Insurance
“When asked what reasons they might use for switching their auto insurance from one company to another, a third (33%) of self-identified gays and lesbians said that offering domestic partner benefits to its employees would be one of their top three reasons they would change providers and take their business to another insurance carrier….The survey also highlights the finding that gays and lesbians are twice as likely as heterosexuals to purchase their automotive insurance online.” – Harris Interactive.

Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation 

Phillyad2“Results can be summarized in two words: extraordinary and unprecedented…The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation’s, Philadelphia: Get Your History Straight and Your Nightlife Gay®, tourism marketing campaign is the most-award winning gay tourism marketing campaign in history.” – Ad Respect (formerly Commerical Closet Association) •