September 22, 2008
To the Advertising Industry:
New York City has a long and proud history of being both a center of the storied advertising business world and a mosaic of diversity.
Advertising has the job of selling products and services and also to stand out. But all too often, commercials use classic stereotypes of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender people for humor, with stock homophobic and transphobic responses. It is true for advertisers big or small, in progressive or conservative industries, and sometimes those with good corporate policies.
Such depictions do not serve the advertiser or the LGBT community. They can encourage narrow-minded individuals toward discriminatory behavior and even acts of violence. Polls show that today's increasingly diversified consumer landscape is rapidly and widely accepting of LGBT people, making such old-fashioned approaches in ads distasteful and ineffective.
We challenge the ad industry to reexamine any lingering conventional wisdom that LGBT stereotypes, homophobia and transphobia are considered successful approaches to selling products by actually testing it with general audiences. We encourage advertisers to seek out best practices on LGBT references in advertising, such as those provided by Commercial Closet Association (CommercialCloset.org/bestpractices), to tap into client and agency LGBT employee resource groups for guidance, and to actively include LGBT consumers when testing campaigns for feedback.
Both the business world and society will gain when advertising punchlines pay attention to the bottom line and reject stereotypes, homophobia and transphobia.
- Thomas Duane, NY State Senator
- Neil Giuliano, Exec. Dir. GLAAD
- Deborah Glick, NY State Assembly Member
- Nancy Hill, American Association of Advertising Agencies CEO
- Micah Kellner, NY State Assembly Member
- Michael McLaren, McCann Erickson U.S. President
- Rosie Mendez, City Council Member
- Daniel O'Donnell, NY State Assembly Member
- Christine Quinn, City Council Speaker
- Scott Stringer, Manhattan Borough President
- William Thompson, NYC Comptroller
- Tiffany R. Warren, Arnold Worldwide VP Director of Multicultural Programs & Community Outreach
- Tony Wright, Lowe Worldwide CEO
- Michael Wilke, Founding Executive Director, Commercial Closet Association