Monday, June 27, 2005

Don't Be "Gay Vague"

The following article about MergeMedia's thoughts on GLBT marketing appeared in the June 27th issue of Adweek and Mediaweek magazines:

Don't Be "Gay Vague"

“Gay vague messaging is a waste of marketing dollars,” says Dawn Meifert, president of Merge Media Group, one of the nation’s most successful new gay agencies.

“Vague actually works against your brand. The GLBT market knows when advertising is trying to straddle a line – be ‘kind of gay’,” she laughs.

“And as everyone knows by now – there’s no such thing as ‘kind of gay’.’”

Meifert started Merge because she noticed gays and lesbians were either absent from advertising – even in gay media – or their representation was insultingly unrealistic.

“Gays and lesbians have traditionally been either the punch line of advertising or ridiculous caricatures,” Meifert observed. “The reality is that the GLBT market is a broad, upscale, more educated and savvy group. And if you talk to us correctly, we’re one of the most lucrative and loyal demographics in the history of marketing.”

Meifert sites recent research showing the GLBT market is worth more than $600 Billon in revenue. Gays are also America’s most brand-loyal demo, with 87% reporting that they will try and stay with “gay-right” brands.

“’Gay-right’ doesn’t mean militant or loud. It’s respect, commitment and value,” Meifert says. “Demonstrate those attributes, offer a product that fits their lives, and gays will loyally buy your brand.”

“Our strategic creative is rooted in the fundamentals of packaged goods marketing. It’s disciplined, rational and keeps the target always top of mind,” Meifert adds. “It’s amazing how many otherwise intelligent brands approach this market so blindly, so incorrectly. It’s simply a waste.”

Merge efforts have begun to pay off for major American brands. For instance, Merge has won a three-year national GLBT marketing contract with Colorado-based Coors Brewing Co. to dispel decades-old misconceptions about the company and its relationship with the GLBT community.

The Dallas-based agency is also creating a series of public service announcements for the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. The first PSA featured Academy Award nominee Julianne Moore.

Meifert’s strongest advice to brands reaching out to the $613-billion market is to be focused and direct. Respect the audience and speak openly to them.

“Don’t equivocate,” Meifert says, smiling. “Don’t do ‘kind of’ marketing – unless, of course, you only want to ‘kind of’ sell your brand.”