Last month Lauren Meyer, a student at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, was attacked and viciously punched in the face by two men for wearing an American Apparel “Legalize Gay” t-shirt. Naturally, the incident sparked outrage, and American Apparel quickly stepped in and sent 500 of the t-shirts to the UWW campus. The clothier also took out a full page ad in the student newspaper (pictured above), which declared itself an ally to the GLBT community.
As a corporate marketer, I’m typically pro-business (especially for businesses that support GLBT rights), but seeing a company turning a gay-bashing incident into a PR opportunity leaves a bad taste in my mouth. An excerpt from a recent post on Queerty sums up my feelings perfectly:
“First, let’s get this out of the way: Any company that comes to the defense of our community deserves commendation. For every outfit like American Apparel that lauds The Gays with attention and good vibes, in good and bad times, there are thousands that ignore us, even when attacks against us happen in our own communities.
But is anyone else a little skeezed out by a company that’s using a violent gay bashing as a means to market itself? The t-shirts themselves don’t carry any American Apparel branding, but I’d bet most young gays who see the shirts known where they’re from. Moreover, AA is touting its activism by buying ads to promote itself — which could be seen as a healthy showing of support, or if you’re a cynic, a gross misappropriation of a disturbing event for a corporate marketing opportunity.”
In AA’s defense, the company wrote an email to a Gawker blogger who wrote on the subject to point out that the chain gave the t-shirts away free of charge and made no money for the donation. Furthermore, AA has no stores within an hour’s drive of Whitewater to take advantage of the publicity and has no plans to open one anytime soon.
Posted in For Marketers, Observations
Tagged American Apparel, American Apparel ad, American Apparel gay ally, American Apparel PR, American Apparel t-shirt donation, gay American Apparel, gay-bashing, Lauren Meyer, Legalize Gay, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
This billboard for Axe deodorant recently appeared in Canada as a response to Old Spice’s wildly popular “I’m a man” commercials. I wouldn’t call the billboard offensive, but as a gay man, it is certainly off-putting. While I don’t know any gay men who would actually wear the foul-smelling fragrance, Axe has definitely excluded a segment of its target population with this creative. For what it’s worth, Axe is manufactured by Unilever, which scores a 100 on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index.
Posted in Observations
Tagged anti-gay billboard, Axe, Axe anti-gay billboard, Axe Deodorant, Axe deodorant billboard, Axe insensitive billboard, Axe Old Spice billboard, Old Spice, Old Spice I'm a Man, Unilever, Unilever billboard, Unilever insensitive billboard
Never before have agencies and corporate bookers been able to search for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT)-friendly hotels on the GDS (an international travel booking system). They have had to rely solely on travel guides and internet sites to fulfill their GLBT client’s needs.
World Rainbow Hotels is introducing the first ever GLBT-specific rate-codes that will be bookable on the GDS as well as a selection of websites. The World Rainbow Hotels team will be promoting the new rate plans to travel agents and corporate bookers, so that they will be better equipped to offer their clients GLBT-welcoming accommodation, carefully selected through a strict set of criteria.
Mark Lewis, Managing Director at HotelREZ, who is launching the World Rainbow Hotels program, says “It is not enough just to say an establishment is “Gay-welcoming”. GLBT consumers should be able to have reassurance that hotel staff understands their travel concerns and how to meet them.”
Staff at the hotels accepted into World Rainbow Hotels rate program will need to undertake “GayComfort” training online to increase awareness and levels of confidence with requests and situations that they may not be familiar with. GLBT guests will sense this natural confidence and will therefore feel more welcome at the hotels.
After a tumultuous year in which it was accused of overstating its circulation numbers to advertisers, it appears the San Diego Gay & Lesbian Times has shut its doors. According to NBC San Diego the entire staff has been laid off, and the newspaper failed to showed up at its usual distribution locations last week.
The publication has not released any official statement, and former employees seem to be just as confused as the rest of us. In an online message, one staffer wrote that he was laid off via email with no explanation as to whether the shut down was temporary or permanent. He goes on to say his last pay check was returned for non-sufficient funds and his group insurance plan was cancelled for non-payment.
Earlier this year, the newspaper was accused of significantly inflating its circulation figures to advertisers. The San Diego County District Attorney’s office has reportedly been investigating the publications for “overstating circulation figures and possible financial irregularities.”
The October/November issue of Echelon Magazine has been released. The latest edition of this leading GLBT business publication focuses on Employee Resource Groups. Turn to page 24 to read an article I wrote (Hiring For Diversity) on corporate efforts to attract and retain GLBT employees. In today’s business climate, more and more employers are recognizing the benefits of a diverse workforce and are stepping up their GLBT recruiting efforts.