Overview How Many People Are GLBT? Are Lesbians Distinct From Gay Men? A Few Words About the B's and T's How Much Do Gays Earn? Where Do Gays Live? How Many Households Are There? Media Usage, Purchasing Decisions, and the Value of Gay Marriage Annual Gay Events Attract Hundreds of Thousands What About A Backlash Against Gay Marketers? What's Missing? What About Print?
While most of Commercial Closet Association's site is dedicated to TV, there is also much to study about print--but it is a different animal altogether.
While television is about reaching mass audiences with a general message, print ads can be much more targeted. When an ad appears in gay media, it is meant to speak directly to the gay community. This section "What About Print?" focuses almost entirely on gay-specific marketing ads.
Print Was Most Developed Medium To Reach Gays
Commercial Closet Association follows noteworthy gay-themed ads from major advertisers in gay publications and some relevant ones from mainstream media. For now, the bulk of the content in the archive is from two American magazines – The Advocate (2006 audited circulation of 155,755) and OUT, (2006 audited circulation of 148,422). There is also some representation by international titles including Australia's BLUE, France's Tetu, the UK's Gay Times, Attitude, Diva, and Belgium's GUS. The Advocate and OUT were formerly competing publications (founded in 1969 and 1992 respectively) were the premiere places for gay marketing for most advertisers through the end of the 20th century. Print had long been the most developed medium to reach gay Americans, despite a handful of radio and local access cable programs.
Gay-themed print advertising has evolved parallel to the growing inclusion of gays in TV advertising in the US. A substantial increase in gay-themed print ads began in 1996 as advertisers, particularly in the alcohol industry, sought to distinguish themselves in an increasingly crowded category. Alcohol and tobacco, both known as "sin" products, developed early because they were much less concerned about boycotts from religious conservatives than other corporate marketers.
U.S. Corporate Gay Marketing Valued at $276 Million
It is estimated that American corporations now spend about $276 million annually in gay media and major sponsorships.
Advertising spending in gay and lesbian publications reached $223.3 million in 2006, up 5.2% from the previous year, and $207 million in 2004, an increase of 28% over 2003, according to the Gay Press Report, the annual survey from Rivendell Marketing and Prime Access, which tracks 284 gay press publications. The 2004 report also found a jump in ads with "gay-specific" content through their copy or art direction, jumped 241.9% over the previous year.
Up to an additional $27 million is now spent annually in online advertising ($26.5 million with dominant player PlanetOut), and an estimated $20 million on LOGO, for a total of $270 million in gay media alone. (In late 2005, LPI Media, which publishes The Advocate and OUT, were acquired by PlanetOut Inc. which owns gay.com.) According to CCA's Corporate Sponsorship Report, another $6 million is spent on sponsorships of major national GLBT organizations and events, totaling $276 million spent on reaching the market.
Print ad revenues have quadrupled since 1994's $53 million and previously enjoyed consecutive double-digit gains annually: 1995 - 16.2%, 1996 - 19%, 1997 - 36.7%, 1998 - 20.2%, 1999 - 29%, 2000 - 36.3%.
However, the market remains like an Olympic-sized wading pool -- very wide but very shallow because corporate spending and commitment remain low. As a result, research and understanding of the gay market remains poor. Detailed information is unavailable for gay media spending in other countries, however the most developed markets outside the U.S. are Germany, Australia, England, Belgium and France. (Find more information in the Gay Marketing Resources section.) The nexus between marketers that include gays in their TV commercials and also have gay-specific print ads remains very small.
Gay-Specific Ad Trend
For new companies entering the American gay market in 2003, more started off with gay-specific print ads rather than mainstream ads as they did in the past.
Why do companies create gay-themed print advertising? Because even today there is so little imagery of gay men and women in ads that it stands out dramatically. And because the gay community so rarely sees itself reflected in advertising, those ads can get a disproportionately positive response if done properly. And of course an ad portraying the group it targets will usually do better than one that does not.
When polled about what types of ads corporations should run, the opinions of visitors to CommercialCloset.org varied. About 21% of 1,000 polled said that ads should feature gay-specific pictures, while 17.9% thought mainstream ads would work --so long as they didn’t picture heterosexual couples. But a majority, 52.8%, said that ads should be a mix of both.
Reflecting on the popularity of picturing shirtless men in gay men's magazine ads --particularly favored among fashion brands like Abercrombie & Fitch and Calvin Klein and beer advertisers like Miller Brewing Co. and Anheuser Busch -- most CommercialCloset.org visitors polled said they liked them, with 48.8% of 1,500 respondents calling them "sexy/memorable." However, a large portion, 34% also answered that such an approach was "predictable/boring," another 14% were neutral on the matter and 3.1% even found them "offensive."
Top Advertisers, Most Developed and Underdeveloped Ad Categories
The most developed ad categories targeting gay audiences include Alcohol (140+ ads), Fashion (140+), Travel (50+), Financial Services (40+), Automotive (35+) and Media (35+), among others. Meanwhile, other categories remain largely missing, such as Telecom, Fast Food, Snack Foods, Packaged Goods, Electronics, Personal Products, Household Goods, Healthcare, Home, Office, Remodeling, Retirement and many others.
While many companies have advertised for brief periods, a handful were in the market early and consistently keep a presence. They include: V&S Vin & Sprit AB (the first major corporate brand in gay market initiated under Michel Roux in the U.S. but retain presence, Absolut vodka, 1981), American Airlines (1994), American Express Co. (1994), Anheuser-Busch Co. (1996 nationally), Diageo (all brands entered market pre-Diageo aquisitions after 1997 but retain their presence. Baileys-1994, Captain Morgan-1995, Chivas-1995, Johnnie Walker-1995, Jose Cuervo-1996, Smirnoff-1997, Tanqueray-1995) IBM-1997, SAB Miller-1994 (under Miller Brewing Co.), Subaru of America-1996. Recent arrivals who have spent big or had a years-long presence and multi-media approach include: Avis, Bridgestone, Ford Motor Co. (Volvo, Jaguar and Range Rover), Gruppo Campari (Skyy Vodka), Showtime Networks (for launches of Queer As Folk and The L Word).
Among the most consistent gay-owned advertisers have been the cruise lines Olivia (for women), RSVP and Atlantis.