FACING CREATIVE CHALLENGES:
Hundreds of companies and ad agencies represented in the CCA Ad Library have created GLBT-inclusive ads. They've done so to be edgy, to appeal to youth, to be creatively fresh, and to reflect the diversity of their customers. Here are some suggestions for creative challenges:
A Word About Stereotypes
Are stereotypes ever okay? It is often said that there is some truth to stereotypes, and indeed there are feminine/campy men, leathermen and masculine/sporty women, in the GLBT community. It would be exclusionary to say they should never be depicted. But remember, what is funny within a group of trusted friends or peers, or even in standup comedy, does not necessarily work for advertising. Such characterizations may be used with caution if the intent is not to use a GLBT stereotype for ridicule, and its presence works best as incidental or to ultimately counter a stereotype.
Positive Examples: Salon Selectives uses a fish-out-of-water joke when it features a hair stylist in a new job he doesn't know how to do. (2002) Bissell has leather bikers cheering to figure skating and arranging flowers. (2002) Snapple anthropomorphizes one of its bottles as a leatherman for diversity. (2002) Altoids portrays a leatherman to illustrate "macho." (1999)
• Gays & Lesbians can be shown without relying on stereotypes or clichés. Try using:
a.) Real gay or lesbian individuals. Authenticity goes a long way.
b.) Openly gay or lesbian celebrities or athletes.
c.) Same-sex pairings in everyday situations, such as at home, driving, shopping, eating.
d.) Same-sex pairings with physical affection.
e.) Sexuality can be referenced through verbal, text, graphical, or anthropomorphic mentions.
f.) Unexpected twists, counter time-worn clichés, and add other humor sources.
g.) A mix of masculine/feminine pairings for men or women as couples or friends: butch-femme (men or women), femme-femme (men), butch-butch (women).
Positive Examples: A.) Nike features an openly gay HIV-positive runner. (1995) American Express pictures a female couple on the beach, and a male couple who own a small dog biscuit business. (1998, 1999) IBM presents a male business couple in its "Mom & Pop" ad, Barney's gay designer Simon Doonan, and pictures some of its gay employees. (1998, 2003) (see True Stories)
B.) Martina Navratilova represents Subaru. (2000) Cartier celebrates the commitment ceremony of openly gay rock star Melissa Etheridge and her partner with a $4,000 bracelet. (2003) Chili's restaurants features retired openly gay football star Esera Tuaolo. (2003) Pier 1 Imports signs up "Queer Eye" star Thom Filicia as a spokesman. (2004) American Express features openly gay TV star/host Ellen DeGeneres. (2004) (see Famous Faces, Sports Stars)
C.) The ACLU shows a military man getting ready for work, with his male partner in the background. (2001-02) Two men drive together for Avis Rent-A-Car. (2002-03) Two boys ride on a Ferris wheel together for Diet Vanilla Coke. (2003) (see Couples, Gay Families/Kids)
D.) A model and body builder male couple, posed as sailors, kiss passionately in front of a battle ship for Diesel. (1994) Several same-sex couples kiss and embrace at home, wearing Dolce & Gabbana. (1999) A female couple sit at home, one is pregnant for Fleet Bank. (1999) A male couple marries for DuPont's Sustiva. (2001) Bristol-Myers Squibb depicts two men moving into a new home. (2003) (seeAffectionate Displays, Male Kisses/Female Kisses)
E.) Holiday Inn pictures two pairs of men's shoes below a bed. (2002) Sundance Channel shows paper dolls, boy-boy and girl-girl. (2003) (see Anthropomorphic/Personification)
F.) A transgender woman with a secret reveals she has astigmatism for Focus/Novartis contact lenses (1996) Two macho young men use power tools to make a skate half-pipe then kiss for MTV (2001) (seeStereotype Twists)
G.) Two women with shaved heads rub noses for Mercedes. (2001)
• Bisexuals are rarely shown at all, but when they are it is usually as duplicitous cheaters. How do you avoid that problem? Try using:
a.) Depictions without a defined relationship to another person, keep it ambiguous.
b.) References through verbal, text, graphical, or anthropomorphic mentions.
Positive Examples: A.) Banana Republic pictures a man embraced by a man and woman, each with their hands on his chest. (1993) Amstel Light shows a woman's knees caressed by a man and woman on either side of her. (2002)
B.) Pepsi features a man announce to a crowd that he is bisexual. (2001) Airbus has classic pairs, like Romeo Juliet, split by a third name, to promote two-seat-wide rows. (2003) With two flavors, Altoidsasks readers if they're "Bi-Curious." (2003)
• Transgender is an umbrella term covering a range of gender expressions, identities and situations: male-to-females/M2F, female-to-males/F2M, drag queens/camp, "bad drag," transsexuals, transvestites and androgyny. Trans people are not necessarily gay/lesbian. Most common in advertising are male-to-females, who typically show up as "deceptive" if they pass as women, or "frightening" if they do not. "Bad drag" and transvestites are intentionally unconvincing straight men half-dressed as women, for example wearing wigs and mustaches simultaneously, as a joke or with a mock-subversive motive like spying.Transvestites are depicted in ads as heterosexual men "caught" cross-dressing in women's undergarments. Drag queens are portrayed as campy men impersonating women. Transsexuals have had a sex-change operation. Female-to-males and androgyny--ambiguous gender--are rarely depicted in advertising.
Why not try:
a.) Incorporating transgender people in everyday situations with acceptance as a twist, or employing camp/kitsch fun.
b.) Using a real transgender person, or real female impersonator. Seek authenticity.
c.) Depicting female-to-male individuals, masculine/butch women and "drag kings."
Positive Examples: A.) IKEA depicts a transitioning woman in the hospital, she later goes shopping. (1999) Prudential features a drag performer in a nightclub. (2001) Calvin Klein shows a shirtless man wearing a long wig. (2001) McDonald's includes a man donning drag. (2003)
B.) Fox Broadcasting uses Los Angeles drag queen Karen Dior to promote Fox Sports West. (1996) Baileys Irish Cream, MAC cosmetics, and Virgin Cola feature RuPaul. (both 1995, 1998) Palgantong Fania cosmetics in Korea widely feature M2F transgender model Harisu. (2001-02)
C.) Kenar supermodel Linda Evangelista "kisses" herself dressed in male drag. (1997)
Next (Part IV)