Monday, August 06, 2007

Essay 4270

The item below appeared at—it’s immediately followed by a MultiCultClassics response…


VIDEO: Levi’s Innovative Gay Marketing Move

Gay and Straight Versions of Same TV Commercial Produced

By Hoag Levins

NEW YORK — Levi’s latest round of TV commercials for its 501 jeans line features the same commercial produced in two different versions -- one for straight audiences, the other for the gay demographic. The gay version premiered exclusively on MTV’s Logo network, whose programming is aimed at the gay community. And while this dual TV commercial concept was recently utilized in Orbitz travel site TV spots with marionette puppets, the Levi’s ads are believed to be the first to use real humans in the same way. In this video, Ad Age media reporter Andrew Hampp discusses the Levi’s campaign and the overall vigor of the gay advertising market.

[Click on the essay title above to view the spots and video via]


To quote Advertising Age’s resident moron Bob Garfield, “that is soooo gay.”

It’s hardly breakthrough to produce identical commercials, in this case swapping scenes to edit a version where the hero hooks up with a hot chick and another version where he connects with a hot dude. In fact, it’s the lame and lazy tactic traditionally employed by advertisers targeting minorities.

There’s a strong probability that the marketing maneuver will actually backfire. After all, gay audiences do not exclusively watch gay programming. So folks will likely see both versions. Guess we’ll have to think the main character is bisexual or sexually confused.

Regardless, it’s safe to presume that the adpeople responsible for the work are confused—and culturally clueless too.

It’s also interesting to note the Levi’s account is handled by ad agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty. Nearly a decade ago, BBH principal John Hegarty made semi-relevant comments regarding minority advertising during an interview with Adweek. Hegarty declared, “I dislike the whole idea of ethnic advertising. It’s about telling someone, ‘You are fundamentally different.’ Why? We should be celebrating the fact that we’re part of the whole.” If BBH created the gay/straight Levi’s spots (and MultiCultClassics is not certain they did), it would show Hegarty has not made much progress with his ignorant stance—which was already outdated when he presented the opinion in the 20th century.

For Advertising Age to label the Levi’s effort “innovative” speaks volumes on the publication’s expertise and credibility as well.

Is the Queer Eye team still available for enlightening visits?


Anonymous said...

Um, wouldn't it be more bi- than gay advertising if ‘alternative’ spots were shot? Man, I’m so clever after three weeks on the road.

Unknown said...

Lol @ MLB comment... you're so bi now...

I caught so much crap from people when i got into it with hegarty back in the day. he actually wrote to me a few times. so did legions of his defenders calling me more than a few names.

leave to bob garfield to show up late on the wrong side of an argument with little more than some old guy's equally dumb stance as his only ammo.

go tell LOGO with it's 16 hours a day of original programming that gay viewers only watch what everyone else watches.

HighJive said...

To be clear, the Bob Garfield quote was pulled from an entirely different column over a year ago:

Anonymous said...

You're more of a detriment than a help.

Why don't you applaud the little moves, rather than come down on them. I loved the fact that they made this, especially considering they're one of the only ones who ever have.

HighJive said...

Well, we all have our opinions. That’s what makes it all so fun.

It’s probably true that not enough advertisers are targeting the GLBT market. At the same time, many major advertisers are (perhaps you recall “pro-family” groups recently protesting Ford for advertising to the GLBT market). Levi’s effort, while well-intentioned, is clumsy and amateurish. As the good folks at Adrants pointed out, Orbitz has already been doing work that’s better than Levi’s, at least in terms of recognizing the uniqueness of the audience and not simply re-editing a spot. An advertiser of Levi’s caliber should be doing better, particularly for a segment that likely comprises a significant portion of their audience.

But that’s just our opinion.

Bob Garfield said...

to be extra, extra fair, you should note that i was using the phrase to mimic teenagers.
-- The Resident Moron

HighJive said...

well, we've never felt obligated to be extra, extra fair; however, we did note the source of the quote in a comment above.

you're so sensitive, robert.