Advertising to LGBT community: Producing ads that cater to gay audience is complex, and neither the pro- nor the anti-gay market view appears to be adequately addressing the issues. The problem seems to be that both demand that advertisements show life not “it should be” rather than how “it is”. We have observed in various case studies that we have followed in our course of ‘Integrated Marketing Communication’ that advertisers mostly tend to show lives a shade brighter than it really is, especially in those campaigns where we are trying to sell products by making the consumer feel good about themselves.
This approach however leads to the LGBT invisibility and homophobic representations. Even when the LGBT people are identified as target segment or forming some part of the target segment, stereotype creeps into the picture. In the next segment, we talk about stereotype in marketplace. The Stereotype in marketplace Stereotype haunts LGBT people not only in streets but also in media and in marketplace. In marketplace, stereotyping may not be because of a bias or a preconceived notion about the community. It can be because of incomplete information – a bane for any marketer.
For instance, we have already discussed that collecting gay and lesbian demographic data is way too difficult. Although law is more favorable and dare we say accepting to the community, cultural issues still hinder people to come all out about their ‘unconventional’ sexual and gender orientations. Now this difficulty in gathering data has consequences, such as that people of modest income and poorer people are ignored as part of the gay market. They are hence absent from gay images in marketing, as they usually are in mainstream ads.
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Economic stereotype An ideal gay consumer would usually be stereotyped as affluent, educated, and childless. This apparently contrasts with better representative observations of gay, lesbian, and bisexual consumers. As the famous economics professor Lee Badgett in his paper "Income Inflation: The Myth of Affluence among Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Americans," notes: “Gay, lesbian, and bisexual people do not earn more than heterosexual people; gay, lesbian, and bisexual people do not live in more affluent households than heterosexual eople; two studies show that gay men earn less than similarly qualified heterosexual men. Gay, lesbian, and bisexual people are found throughout the spectrum of income distribution: some are poor, a few are rich, and most are somewhere in the middle, along with most heterosexual people. ” As it is widely observable fact that on an average, women get paid lesser than men in similar jobs in most part of the world, a female homosexual household would obviously be poorer than their male counterpart or a heterosexual household.
Also, female homosexual couple is more likely to have children than a male homosexual household and so on. Behavioral stereotype: In media gay men are often portrayed as sissies, gaudy flamers, intimidating, always on the prowl and/or pedophilic sexual predators. Similarly lesbians are depicted mostly as misandrist feminists and (worst of all) as an object of heterosexual men’s feminine fantasies. Challenge to advertisers Big task of advertisers here, would be to distance themselves from these preconceived imagery and to produce a gay image of relevance yet recognizable.
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