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Crunchy, Creamy, Delicious Equality: It Won’t Back Down

by Kilian Melloy
Thursday Jul 25, 2013

"America's favorite cookie" has flourished in the year since Oreo came out in support of GLBT equality. And Oreo's parent company, Kraft Foods, is only one of a number of major companies celebrating, even pushing for, full legal parity for sexual minorities and their families: Major U.S. businesses, including longtime supporter Levi Strauss, Google, Apple, and even communications giant Verizon and entertainment conglomerate Viacom (owner of the LOGO network) all filed amicus briefs when the Supreme Court took on two major cases earlier this year that directly affected gays and their families.

A July 1 article at The Aggregate reported on how consumers embraced the brand despite an all-too-predictable backlash by anti-gay groups. After the popular cookie maker posted an image of a rainbow crème Oreo on Facebook last summer, the controversy that arose -- and the publicity it generated -- dovetailed with the company's celebration of its one hundredth anniversary, The Aggregate noted, with the net effect being that the brand enjoyed a big bump in sales.

The article made note of the fact that ubiquitous brands such as Starbuck's, JC Penney, Nike, and even Target -- which had its own fractious relations with the GLBT community a couple of years ago in the wake of a political donation that found its way to the pockets of an anti-gay politician -- have all found that it's good business to reach out to GLBT customers, because gay consumers have embraced them right back... and so have equality-minded straight allies.

Meantime, anti-gay groups have fumed, their boycotts ineffectual and nothing in the way of an apology or an appeasement forthcoming.

That refusal to balk is key, the article said, quoting Andrew Isen of WinMark Concepts, who said, ""The most important thing is to get management squarely behind its business decision and not apologize to any group."

That new resolve is matched by a fresh take on what gay consumers want to see in advertising that speaks to them. As reported here at EDGE in a July 23 article, marketing to GLBTs has developed drastically in recent years. GLAAD’s vice president of communications, Rich Ferraro, told EDGE that ad campaigns geared toward the pink dollar "used to include drag queens, rainbows or gay men on beaches. Advertisers relied on the stereotypes about the community and what they thought would play well." These days, advertisers have learned that what really resonates with their gay audience are images of same-sex couples and GLBT individuals doing all the same things their straight counterparts do every day: "working in major corporations, marrying and raising families," as the EDGE article put it.

The lesson that a company wins the respect of the GLBT buyer when it sticks to its guns -- while not losing any face with any but the anti-gay crowd -- has permeated the corporate and advertising cultures. "Today advertisers learned the lesson from Ford if you decide to do an LGBT friendly ad they have to stick with it," AdRespect’s Mike Wilke told EDGE.

Such ads are increasingly common, from J. Crew’s bravura inclusion of a gay employee and his male partner in a 2011 catalogue to JC Penney’s 2012 Father’s Day catalogue showing a pair of gay dads and their children.

But, as Direct Marketing News noted in a July 18 post, it’s vital for advertisers and corporations to understand, and be fluent in, the lingo that’s spoken by their target audience. To facilitate this and help executives stay current on the lingo, Direct Marketing News offered a glossary that details how some words and phrases are "out" (such as the misleading, politically charged terms "Gay Lifestyle" and the increasingly dated "partner") and others have taken their place as the au courant, "in" terms of choice (such as "Sexual Orientation" and "Husband" or "Wife").

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


  • WayGay, 2013-07-26 15:11:23

    OH MY GOD- what are those fat million moms gonna do now that they won’t be able to get their Oreo fix?!?!?

  • WayGay, 2013-07-27 11:31:27

    Well, like all "conservatives" they will preach one thing at the tops of their lungs and then quietly cheat when they think no one is looking.

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