Category Archives: For Marketers

Tips and resources for marketers looking to target gay consumers

.Gay Domain Extension May Soon Become Reality

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, recently announced plans to introduce a batch of new domain extensions, and one gay entrepreneur is coughing up the $185,000 application fee to get .gay approved.  Scott Seitz, the chief executive of dotGay and the founder of SPI Marketing, hopes that his application is one of the expected 115+ entries to get approved.

However, before you rush out to register gay.gay, there are numerous obstacles Seitz must overcome before his domain extension dream becomes a reality.  One is ICANN itself.  There is no word how many of the applications the organization plans to approve.

Even if ICANN initially approves .gay, various country’s governments can use their clout to prevent it from ever being fully approved, as the U.S. and Brazil did with the .xxx extension in 2004.  Several conservative Arab nations have already said they will oppose .gay.

Then comes the issue of governance.  Should .gay cross all of the approval hurdles, the domain could become, in part, a forum for hate groups to fill with their vitriol.  Seitz plans to work with groups like GLAAD and Lamda Legal to filter these users and defend the group in the legal battles that will inevitably ensue.

The path may seem daunting, but Seitz remains hopeful.  “We’re getting ready to see the Internet reborn again in a very different way,” he says. “I got involved because I saw what the opportunity was for the gay community. .gay will be a venue for enhancing our ability to interact with each other as a community.”

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GLBT Americans Remain More Optimistic About The Economy

The results of a recent survey, released today by Harris Interactive and Witeck-Combs Communications, indicate that gays and lesbians remain more optimistic about the economy than their heterosexual counterparts.  Nearly four in ten (39%) GLBT respondents believe the economy will improve in the next year, while only 29% of heterosexual survey-takers share this optimism.

Furthermore, 30% of gay and lesbian adults say they feel more secure in their financial situation than last year, while only 19% of heterosexual respondents report feeling more secure.  The results of this survey are in line with previous Harris Interactive surveys, indicating gays and lesbians consistently remains more optimistic about the country’s economy.

Naturally, these survey results are welcome news to companies targeting the GLBT community.  In these tough economic times, marketers continue to search for pockets of consumers willing to open their purse strings.  If you’re a marketer who hasn’t turned an eye to the gay and lesbian community, it might be time.

NYC’s Graphic HIV Ad Divides Gay Activists

There has been much ado this week surrounding the graphic commercial on the dangers of HIV recently released by New York City’s Health and Mental Hygiene Department.  The ad, called “It’s Never Just HIV,” features a harsh depiction of illnesses that are often associated with the disease, such as osteoporosis, dementia, and a very graphic graphic image of anal cancer.

While several gay activists have complained, calling the ads “stigmatizing and sensationalistic,” others, most notably Act Up founder Larry Kramer, have defended the ads as a true portrayal of the disease.  “This ad is honest and true and scary, all of which it should be,” says Kramer.   “HIV is scary, and all attempts to curtail it via lily-livered nicey-nicey ‘prevention’ tactics have failed.”

The controversy surrounding New York City’s HIV prevention effort is similar to the uproar the Illinois Department of Public Health faced when it released a divisive ad campaign encouraging people to get tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.  As reported on OGM, that campaign, titled “He’s the One,” was pulled amid allegations that it demonized HIV positive men and might discourage those living with the disease to divulge their status.

The commercial may make some viewers uncomfortable, but I must come to the defense of the campaign.  New York City officials followed all the proper ad testing procedures to identify a creative concept that would resonate the most with its audience, including focus groups with the campaign’s target demographic— primarily Latino and black men between ages 18 and 30.

When developing an ad campaign, the marketer’s job is to identify the ad concept that is most effective at driving viewers to a desired action.  Some may call this commercial “scare tactic” advertising, but at the end of the day proper ad testing won out.   If it takes “scare tactics” to compel people to think seriously about the consequences of HIV, so be it.

Releasing User Information Won’t Compromise Privacy, But Will Lead To More Relevant Ads

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Your Apps Are Watching You” revealed (shockingly) that smartphone app developers are sharing certain bits of personal user information with third party companies.  (To make this post gay-related, one of the apps discussed in the article is every gay’s favorite mobile hookup site Grindr, which sends gender, location, and phone ID information to advertising firms.)

Just today, satellite television provider DirecTV announced it will launch a targeted ad platform beginning in August or September of next year amid cries of “privacy concerns.”  Back in October a study announced that Facebook might be revealing private user information to advertisers to help them better target their ads.

The only thing that surprises me about these stories is that people continue to be surprised about these stories.  Sharing customer information with advertisers is nothing knew.  How do you think the telemarketing industry began?  Luckily, laws have been created to protect consumers from intrusive practices like unsolicited telemarketing, spamming, and text message marketing.

What people must realize is that the information that Grindr, DirecTV, and Facebook share will make the ads they experience more relevant to them.  Advertisers use this behavioral, contextual, demographical, and geographical information to broadcast ads that will be more pertinent, interesting and useful to the person viewing them.

Yes I’m a marketer, and yes I may be biased, but I for one welcome the opportunity to view ads that are tailored to my interests and lifestyle.  If sharing some user information means never having to watch a Monistat 7 commercial again sign me up!

Study Shows Companies Fail To Deliver On “Gay Friendly” Promise

Back in July, OGM relayed the horror story one gay couple experienced at a “gay friendly” resort in Cancun.  It should surprise nobody that this incident is far more common than it should be, according to a new study by Out Now Consulting.

The global GLBT consulting firm surveyed 30,000 people across the globe, and found that many hotels and destinations claim to be gay friendly, but do not take the necessary measures to ensure they actually are.  It seems companies are keen to slap the phrase “gay friendly” on advertisements these days without putting a second thought into what the term actually entails.

While it certainly doesn’t invalidate these findings, it should be noted the Out Now press release doesn’t mention any quantitative figures from the study, and the company also has some skin in the game.  Conveniently, Out Now offers GayComfort, an online training and accreditation program for hospitality professionals interested in serving the GLBT community.

dot429 Connects GLBT Professionals

Today OGM features dot429, a social networking site that provides GLBT professionals a place to network and share professional experiences.  In the words of the website itself:

“Welcome to dot429 – a professional network for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and our allies. We are dedicated to connecting LGBTA professionals online and in person. Join us as we build our community and continue to improve our website. Start connecting with some of the most influential and successful among the LGBTA community where together we can achieve even more.”

Did American Apparel Spin Gay-Bashing Incident Into PR Opportunity?

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.