Sunday, April 27, 2008

Gays and the Recession

On the cover of today’s New York Times, "Recession Diet Just One Way to Tighten Belt". It is an article that discusses and discloses how Americans are jumping ship when it comes to their usual brands. They are staying at the Hampton Inn instead of the Hilton, buying Gain instead of Tide and Oh My God!!! buying Keystone Light over Corona Light. Seems to me corporate America really needs to start paying attention to the homos in this country.

I am sure that somewhere some religious zealot will say all this recession talk is part of a grand scheme thought out by the gays and their homosexual agenda to promote their financial superiority. It is a great idea, maybe we should have thought of this long ago! I do know that I have often wished that I knew what the agenda was/is and can I participate? Can I make a donation somewhere that will get me a bumper sticker? Some things we just may never know......

What I do know for sure is that we (the gays) will not be as affected by this economic downturn as most of our straight counter-parts and we have the numbers to prove it. Personally, none of our friends have scaled back in any way, nor do they plan to do so. Seriously, what self-respecting homosexual with an active social life would buy generic?

Just think, if all those brilliant marketers out there of America’s brands would apply the same rigor and investment in the LGBT community the return they would mine on that investment. This single decision would help to stem the slide of their brands and perhaps, save a few jobs. They would be hailed as visionaries!! That same decision would also pump hundreds of millions of dollars into the gay community, which in turn would create more spending.

Eight to ten percent of the population, located mainly in metropolitan areas, more highly educated and the most loyal demographic out there. Can someone please explain to me what in the world is corporate America waiting on??

Monday, April 14, 2008

Gay Marketing Equality

Do you know how much progress your company has made in LGBT marketing?
Probably not much as you may think.

Whereas it’s true that more than half of all Fortune 500 companies are now speaking to our market – and that’s a GREAT thing – most communications come in the form of sponsorships of worthy organizations like HRC, GLAAD, NGLCC, Matthew Shepherd Foundation and more.

Brands are advertising by association, which is certainly progress. But achieving true equality means actually being treated equally. What would that look like in terms of your marketing department?

First, your Marketing Director and Brand Managers would understand the awesome buying power of LGBT consumers. Lesbian and gay Americans are projected to spend $800 Billion in 2008, and no marketer (except perhaps the brand manager of Fox News or the American Family Institute) is going to ignore that number.

Then there would be a business expectation for the LGBT market, just as there is one for the general marketing, Hispanic, African/American, Asian, and others. Accompanying that objective would be marketing strategies – advertising, direct, sponsorships, PR – to achieve the goals.

Finally, marketing dollars would be apportioned according to the opportunity.
Fairness means you treat LGBT like any other marketing segment. THAT’S equality.

And here’s the bonus your company will want to know: Treat LGBT like any other segment, treat it like a business, and it will perform like one.

To achieve equality, LGBT Americans must simply keep pushing. We’ve made progress, but our company’s marketers need to more fully understand that addressing our market isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s good business.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

LGBT Marketing

As a smart marketer, I hope you'll take a moment to review the current article called "Pink Profits." It discusses the growing number of Fortune 500 brands that are discovering the mushrooming buying power of the $780-Billion LGBT market.

The article includes a link to effective LGBT market work, prominently featuring Merge client Coors Brewing and others.

If you don't have time to go online, here are some highlights:

Many brands now actively target the gay community, as even the most conservative execs have come to realize that there's just too much money to be made from well-to-do, happy-to-spend LGBT consumers. And merely acknowledging consumers who sadly are used to being ignored if not vilified, does wonders for brand loyalty.

Advertising | From Time Magazine (August 2006): “Advertising in gay-oriented outlets is flourishing. Beverage companies like Anheuser-Busch, holiday firms including Travelocity and automakers such as Ford helped nudge advertising spend in the US gay and lesbian press to USD 212 million last year, up more than a quarter since 2003.”

Marketers in every category -- Automotive to Medical, Travel to Fashion, Casinos to Financial -- are establishing a presence with the lucrative LGBT market. Let Merge Media show you how.

If you'd like more information on mining the business potential of the LGBT market for your brand, we will be happy to talk. Or you could check our website for more information.


Here in the world of gay and lesbian marketing there is a discussion going on as to which acronym we should be using, exactly. When you look at any kind of research on the subject the community is almost equally divided. Shocking. Most gay men feel that GLBT should remain as it has been for many years. Of course, most lesbians would prefer to see it changed to LGBT, as in ladies first.

Several of the larger organizations in the space, GLAAD and NGLCC have switched to using the LGBT moniker. Personally, I prefer LGBT, however, most of our clients are familiar with GLBT. So what is one to do? When marketing to a gay audience I am most interested in speaking relevantly to the gay consumer so that he/she will know that the brand we are representing "gets it". To that end we here at Merge have made the executive decision to stick with LGBT.....after all, we are lesbian owned.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

General Peter Pace

After watching the news clip several times I have come to the decision that all gay and lesbian individuals that are currently serving this administration in Iraq should stand up, identify themselves and leave. Somewhere in the vicinity of 65,000 gay and lesbian soldiers are now serving our military, and Pace has the nerve to say there is no place in today’s forces for openly gay servicemen. GREAT!! I think that is GOOD news for the LGBT community lets bring our brothers and sisters home. The double standard of this whole group of hypocritical people has worked my last gay nerve to its absolute end. I have so much anger around this topic that I have begun to set off car alarms by just walking by. Enough!

Pace and those like him have the nerve to call our LGBT soldiers immoral…..who the hell does he think he is? Who is he working for? Two of the biggest liars in the history of this country, Bush and Cheney!! If every single person that is gay stood up and walked out we would get their attention, and right quick. I am, quite frankly, sick and damn tired of the hatred, division and double standard coming from our “leaders.” Truth be told we know these people are not leaders they are nothing more than puppets for corporate greed.

As self-respecting individuals we must make decisions that support who we are. (BTW all you homos driving BMW’s, they are NOT your friend over there in Bavaria) Buy from companies that support you, work for companies that have internal by-laws that protect/respect yourself and your partner. Do NOT enlist in a military that does not even RECOGNIZE you!! You give your life and this country will not even give your partner the rightful benefits they deserve. As full-fledged citizens of this country we are entitled to every single right provided to us by the Constitution. I am sure that Bush and Co. has heard of this document, I am also quite sure he has no clue how to spell it.

I digress,…Gen. Pace and the overall military have way bigger problems to focus on than the gay/lesbian soldiers that are performing their job everyday. Lying about WMD, manipulating facts to fit the desire for war, killing hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, no-bid contracts for Halliburton, Guantanamo, torture, etc. etc., I could go ON and ON here, but don’t want to bore. My point being, and yes I do have one, Gen. Pace and those like him need to clean their own house before casting stones of immorality.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Snickers - Not right on all fronts

I just watched the Snickers commercial on YouTube again and began to it human nature to put other people down? If we make fun of one class does it make us feel better about ourselves? I mean, am I absolutely crazy to head into a meeting and have no agenda to promote myself at someone else's expense? Did these people get to keep their jobs? SO many questions and no one to answer them!

In my opinion this ad stinks from every angle, not just the homophobic one. These dudes look disgusting, you can almost smell the BO from here. What in the world is appetizing about that? That candy bar looks like something my dog Jack left in the backyard this morning. I felt my desire for food of any kind go hurling towards an open window.

Yes, this thing is homophobic, probably thought up by a group of white "straight" guys sitting in a conference room thinking that they are extraordinarily funny. I guess they have not read any of the studies that have been done on homophobia.

To make it all short and sweet, the ones that protest the loudest are the same ones wrestling with their own sexuality.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

"Fabulous" is so tired

Why is it that marketers from general market agencies think the word "fabulous" is THE word for the gay community? I find it to be a tired cliche. This ad for Hilton, currently running in most mainstream gay publications, is a perfect example.

Since I am a lesbian, I put out my feelers to my gay male friends and found out that they feel the same, some even more so. One of them said he finds the constant reference patronizing and an insult to his intelligence. Ouch!

Really, if "fabulous" is the best thing an ad agency can come up with for its client and their GLBT needs, they should get their asses back to the drawing board and/or the client needs to find a new agency.

While I am on a rant, let's address the rainbow flag. I love that flag and all the history that it stands for, but advertisers need to realize that it's not the only symbol of our community.

Our landscape as a community has changed drastically since Stonewall, a time when most gays had locked themselves into the closet out of fear for their own safety. I have never known a time that I felt unsafe in my openness thanks to those that have come before me.

My point here, and I do have one, that advertisers who want to portray our "gayness" need to appeal more to our open pride in being gay and living as gay Americans, than to patronize us with tired phrases and symbols that they think are gay.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

New York Times: Top Gay Destinations

The New York Times ran a piece about the top gay travel destinations. As the article says, gay-friendliness is the top consideration that gays and lesbians take into account when planning vacations.

You can see the article here:

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Companies Reach Out to Gay MBAs

Here's a great article from Fortune Magazine (published on CNN's Money website) about how companies are making concerted efforts to recruit gay MBA graduates. I spoke on a panel at last year's Reaching Out Conference in Chicago, which was very well attended by both students, recruiters and company representatives.

I particularly like the line at the very end about how being gay used to be an immediate disadvantage, but now it's turned into an opportunity to land your dream job.

Also, it's good to note that there were so many sponsors for this event. In addition to being a recruiting tool, it's an effective way for the brands to reach out to an audience that is likely to be even more affluent and influential than GLBT audiences without advanced degrees.

Gay-friendly companies reach out to MBAs
Fortune's Jia Lynn Yang attends the annual Reaching Out conference for gay and lesbian MBA students in New York City.

By Jia Lynn Yang, Fortune reporter
December 5 2006: 7:00 AM EST

NEW YORK (Fortune) -- If corporate America has indeed become gay-friendly, there are few better places to witness the trend happening en masse than the annual Reaching Out conference for gay and lesbian MBA students.

Each fall, some of the biggest companies on the Fortune 500 - and virtually all of Wall Street - send recruiters to lobby hard for what they view as simply more of the best talent that can be hired. The fact that everyone they're recruiting is gay? It's all but incidental.

From a distance, there's not much to distinguish Reaching Out from any other corporate conference. At this year's event in October, held at the Grand Hyatt in midtown Manhattan, a steady stream of young men and women in suits, roughly 700 total (26 percent female), spent the first full day of the conference moving from a career expo to a series of panels and receptions, networking and swapping business cards along the way.

There's naturally a political backdrop to the whole event (start asking people about discrimination in the workplace and you'll hear stories). And there are workshops the second day that deal explicitly with gay issues, like "LGBT Marketing: Opportunities and Lessons Learned" or "Mentorship - Leveraging Your LGBT Network." But the tone is pure business.

People come to the conference for two reasons, explains Chris Shuster, one of the organizers of this year's Reaching Out and a student at the NYU Stern School of Business. One is to connect. The other is to get a job at a gay-friendly workplace. Recruiters have responded.

About 50 companies were at this year's conference meeting candidates, and they run the gamut, including
Citigroup (Charts), Microsoft (Charts), Accenture, Goldman Sachs (Charts), Procter & Gamble (Charts), Pfizer, IBM (Charts), Toyota (Charts) and many more.

The companies are New York-heavy - finance and consulting are each well represented - but there are also surprises. Among them: Whirlpool, headquartered in Benton Harbor, Michigan.

Companies also compete to appear as supportive as possible of gay issues. Nearly every portion of the schedule - every meal, coffee break, workshop and panel - had a corporate sponsor: Johnson & Johnson attached its name to the keynote lunch with workplace expert Kirk Snyder, head of Equality Career Group; Barclays Capital sponsored a Women's Tea tucked into one of the rooms to the side; each career panel had a corporation backing it: consulting by McKinsey, investment banking and finance by JPMorgan Chase, marketing by L'Oréal USA and so on. Altogether, there were 49 different sponsors.

The first Reaching Out event in 1999 was organized by a group of Harvard and Yale business students. They called it "From the Closet to the Boardroom," and roughly 150 students attended.
The event is five times that size now, and as corporate America has begun to embrace gay employees, the activism behind Reaching Out has also shifted gears.

"We've actually achieved most of the goals we've put in place," says Shuster. "We have partner benefits, non-discrimination policies. Companies cover gender reassignment surgeries for us. That's kind of old news for us." The new focus, she says, is on global companies that have offices in different places around the world, where coming out in the workplace is still a serious taboo and, in some cases, illegal.

At the Goldman-hosted cocktail hour, Jeffrey Carbo, a first-year student at the UMass-Amherst Isenberg School of Management, likened the event to an alumni gathering where people can meet and help each other out.

"It's another one of those things that creates an instant connection to network," he says. That's a dramatic twist. Being gay used to be an immediatedisadvantage to being hired. Today, it's opening up more chances to land your dream job.

Monday, November 27, 2006

PinkNews: MTV Awarded for Gay-Friendly Ads

According to this article on PinkNews, Europe's largest GLBT newswire, MTV and were honored for their gay-friendly ads. Here's the full story:

MTV awarded for gay-friendly advertising
22-November-2006 writer

MTV Networks and were recognised for “inclusive excellence in portrayals of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals” in their promotional advertising during the Commercial Closet Association's Second Annual Corporate Visionary Honours event, held this week at The New York Times’ historic, 93-year-old building.

For over a decade, MTV Networks has aired groundbreaking LGBT portrayals in its promotional advertising, and has served as a primary media outlet for other advertisers to do the same.

Since 2001, ( has made humorously inclusive LGBT portrayals a central part of its advertising to both gay and straight audiences.

Michael Wilke, founding executive director of Commercial Closet Association, said: "We applaud MTV Networks and for their ground-breaking and long-standing commitments to inclusiveness and portrayals of LGBT individuals in advertising—they provide an important model for corporate advertisers."

Cyndi Lauper presented the honours for LGBT inclusive advertising to Lisa Sherman, Senior Vice President and General Manager of MTV Networks' LOGO, and Randy Susan Wagner, Chief Marketing Officer, Orbitz Worldwide, a division of Travelport.

The event also marked the five-year anniversary of Commercial Closet Association.