With GLBT Advertising, The Target Isn’t Always The Intended Target

This week, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) honored Google Chrome for the “It Gets Better” campaign. And deservedly so. But writing in Xtra!, a Canadian GLBT news site, Bruce Chambers takes a closer look at other efforts that may, or may not appeal to the GLBT audience, despite their intentions and use of gay and lesbian characters. He uses this example, an ad for Hyundai that ran in Canada:

The ad showed a gorgeous woman so impressed with a Hyundai that she leaves the driver her phone number on a note sealed with a lipstick kiss. Later, the female driver finds the note, likes it a lot and puts it in her purse.

So yes, a positive portrayal of the diversity of lesbians. But not so fast. Is Hyundai targeting lesbian car buyers here? Nope. That niche market is too small for mass-media advertising. The curious thing about lesbianism is that it can be used to attract an entirely unrelated audience – namely straight young men, who represent a huge car-buying audience. So what appears to be a lighthearted and accepting recognition of lesbianism is in fact a tale of possible girl-on-girl action used to arouse the attention of male consumers.

Chambers brings up some interesting points here. When minority audiences and niche targets are used by marketers, does it always have to resonate with that target primarily? As more and more marketers become aware of the need to target niche audiences, there will always be another segment of the audience that isn’t the target, yet sees the message. It’s another layer of subtlety most advertising agencies and their clients have trouble wrapping their heads around.

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About Dan Goldgeier

Blogging on AdPulp since 2005, Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. In addition, he is a regular columnist for TalentZoo.com. Dan published the best of his TalentZoo.com columns in a book entitled View From The Cheap Seats: A Broader Look at Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Global Politics, Office Politics, Sexual Politics, and Getting Drunk During a Job Interview. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book editions.