Sunday, July 27, 2008

5746: Offending Consumers Is Rarely Profitable.

From Letters To The Editor at…

Offending gays no way to win share

RE: “An Open Letter to Omnicom President-CEO John Wren.” Kudos to Bob Garfield for bringing up the need for greater awareness in the ad industry about the questionable effectiveness of gay stereotypes and homophobia for predictable punch lines.

While many like to fall back on the idea that gay stereotypes and homophobia will automatically sell, this is not borne out in research. To the contrary, the world is rapidly changing -- a generation of youth have now been raised by gay-friendly MTV (plus “Will & Grace,” “Queer Eye,” “The L Word,” etc.), 94% of the Fortune 500 protects gay employees from discrimination, and same-sex couples can become legally bound in 11 states and 22 countries.

Advertising humor is different than stand-up comedy; its job is to make as many friends (also known as sales) for the brand as it can. Gay and lesbian jokes affect more than just an estimated 7% of the population; they also will bring negative responses from their family, friends and colleagues.

Agencies and clients will do much better by raising their awareness on these matters and seeking out best practices. Gays and lesbians are more than just a punch line, they’re the bottom line.

Michael Wilke
Executive Director
Commercial Closet Association
New York

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