ADVERTISING DOs & DON'Ts:
Effective advertising takes many creative forms, and is intended to inspire, motivate, persuade and educate audiences often in new and refreshing ways. Our “Do’s and Don’ts” are not intended to be dictates but a useful tool to expand (rather than limit) creative thinking, and to enhance corporate messaging for all households and consumers, including gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) individuals. The information is based on professional trial and analysis from industry leaders.
A1.) DOs - Most Transformative
• Do consider integrating gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender (GLBT) people in general ad campaigns using tested business rationales such as showing diversity and welcoming all consumers. The simple power of inclusion works for many audiences.
• Do create GLBT-inclusive campaigns for both GLBT-media and general media whenever possible that are respectful to all.
• Do consider sponsoring and working with GLBT nonprofit organizations, if your company supports nonprofit causes. Sponsorships signal shared values, and can be helpful to understand GLBT sensibilities and community priorities.
• Do acknowledge that equal treatment of GLBT employees often is associated with companies practicing effective GLBT target marketing and GLBT-inclusive general marketing.
• Do understand the value of including openly GLBT participants in focus groups for all advertising review, when possible, regardless of target audience.
• Do provide expert GLBT awareness training on a regular basis for advertising and marketing staffs.
A2.) DOs - Most Transformative
• Do recognize that GLBT people come from all races, ages, ethnicities, nationalities, incomes, political and religious affiliations, professions, physical abilities, and gender expressions, and whenever possible, incorporate such diversity into their representations. One size does not fit all.
• Do consider putting a twist on the old clichés of GLBT stereotypes, homophobia, and transphobia.
• Do try to integrate GLBT characters as individuals and couples into "slice-of-life" and "everyday" depictions that reflect our diverse society.
• Do include real, openly GLBT celebrities, athletes, and everyday people.
• Do choose inclusive and appropriate references to romantic relationships, families, and individuals that are not exclusively hetero-centric.
B1.) DOs - Basic Standards
• Do understand that GLBT people are increasingly accepted by society and that insensitive messaging will be ineffective if not damaging.
• Do understand that few consumers will shun your brand for being GLBT friendly.
• Do recognize that GLBT people already are your customers.
• Do learn more about GLBT people, their demographics, media habits, and brand preferences through qualified market research.
• Do understand it is important to test GLBT-themed ads, including those emphasizing masculine or feminine characteristics, with GLBT perspectives and in focus groups.
• Do consider offering GLBT marketing strategies when appropriately pursuing niche/multicultural/diversity marketing.
• Do tap into GLBT employee groups and retain GLBT marketing specialists/agencies/consultants for experienced guidance.
• Do coordinate GLBT marketing campaigns with general marketing campaigns.
• Do prepare consistent, business-like responses to media and consumer inquiries about GLBT-inclusive campaigns, focusing on business rationale, corporate values and the bottom line.
• Do identify the variety and number of business sectors creating GLBT-friendly marketing campaigns.
• Do understand that best practices towards GLBT inclusion begin at the top, with the endorsement and participation of senior executives.
B2.) DOs - Basic Standards
• Do avoid using cliched and alienating GLBT stereotypes, homophobia, and transphobia.
• Do consider including GLBT characters or real people without sensationalism.
• Do become aware of the differences between cross-dressers/transvestites, transsexuals, male-to-females, female-to-males, "bad drag," androgyny, and female impersonators/drag queens.
C1.) DON'Ts - Most Damaging
• Don't engage social conservatives in debate regarding GLBT issues, when criticized; business and respect for faith are separate issues.
• Don't waffle, modify or withdraw GLBT-friendly campaigns. Be consistent and principled.
• Don't avoid addressing missteps of legitimate GLBT concerns.
• Don't hyperventilate about backlash and boycott threats. Experience shows most provocation is politically-motivated, and intended for near-term shock and awe. Companies find these episodes almost always blow over quickly.
C2.) DON'Ts - Most Damaging
• Don't use GLBT stereotypes, themes, or people, as a device to elicit shock, humor, or titillation.
• Don't use horrified or violent revulsion to references of homosexuality or transgender people.
• Don't label or degrade gay men or lesbians as sexual predators.
• Don't use sexuality in a degrading way to characterize same-sex affection and intimacy – or associate sexual practices with gays and lesbians differently than with heterosexuals.
• Don't characterize transgender people as deceptive, scary, or freakish.
• Don't characterize bisexuals as cheaters.
D1.) DON'Ts - Needing Improvement
• Don't create GLBT-sensitive messaging and imagery without testing independently with appropriate GLBT perspectives and/or focus groups.
• Don't limit campaign feedback to one or two GLBT employees.
• Don't simply conclude that the average person and mainstream, national audiences will reject GLBT-friendly ads.
• Don't presume GLBT-friendly campaigns require disproportionately large budgets.
D2.) DON'Ts - Needing Improvement
• Don't use GLBT stereotypes without understanding the sensitivities and risks.
• Don't challenge the masculinity of men or femininity of women without understanding the sensitivities and risks.
• Don’t use nonconformity to traditional gender roles for easy laughs.
• Don't marginalize and portray lesbians solely as straight-male fantasies.
Next (Part III)