Inclusivity should be mainstream

My notes from:

Is your brand queer enough?

Museum of Brands Webinar 07/12/2020

- With Mark Runacus (working for a non-profit org)

- Guy Duncan (MA in Queer History)

- Outvertising


Lobby brands to be more inclusive.

By presenting role models we affect change.

We have the power to affect society through advertising and visual communication.

Brands should be inclusive it is one of the easiest steps we can do to improve society, to create a prejudice free world.


Because of the frustration with brands getting it wrong, year after year.

Brief history

1969 Stonewall – political movement that started the fight for the LGBTQ rights.

Before Gay targeted advertising became a thing everything was like alien messaging for the LGBTQ community as nothing resonated with them or included them.

1988 Thatcher instituted an amendment (Section 28) which outlawed education about homosexuality.

The hate towards Gays was further perpetuated when first HIV/AIDS cases started appearing.

Absolut vodka had gay targeted advertising running for decades. The LGBTQ community was one of the first adopters when the brand tried to launch their product in the US in 1979. The brand published their ads in gay publications to spread the word.

In the early 90s people became more vocal, celebrities started coming out.

The Pink Pound/The golden group – The theory that gay couples have no children, therefore they have more money, which makes them a lucrative target market as they have extra money to spend.

The Alphabetty Spaghetty group = LGBT, LGBTQ, LGBTQ+, LGBTQIA,...

Brands usually target just the G, the rest are ignored.

(The aforementioned terms, which could be seen as offensive, were used by the presenter in a joking manner to illustrate the growth of new identities we have seen recently.)

1994 Ikea decided to run an ad with a gay couple – it caused a stir. There were threats. Ikea was demonized by politicians. The director backed out of it saying that it was not meant to be perceived in that light - instead of owning up to his values.

(It is safe to say, that I was somewhat oblivious to the LGBTQ+ history and I still have a lot to learn. I got a lot out this brief overview but I am sure that I missed out on some pieces of information. So take this as a disclaimer as I have not studied Queer history.)

The issues of Advertising

Brands complain that it is too difficult to communicate a gay couple in a 30sec ad.

Case studies:

Guinness Gay Ad attempt – the company did a lot of research + received feedback -> in the end, they decided not to run the ad.

Impulse Ad – 1st Gay Ad in the UK, 1998 (Unilever, Ogilvy)

What is the first Trans Ad? (Unilever) Magnum

What is the first Lesbian Ad? Mothers Pride with Dusty Springfield, 1957 (arguably this is the actual fist LGBTQ Ad)

"Any resources or references to gay advertising from the past are hard to find

-> back then we did not have the vocabulary or terminology that we use today."

Diversity is very complex, and it requires well thought out communication strategy, but it is very rewarding when done right.

56% of all 20-45 olds do not identify as straight.

The older generation is less likely to ‘be out’ – but still 11% do not identify as straight -> Inclusivity should be mainstream


A lot of criticism towards inclusive ads comes from within the LGBTQ community.

‘Pinkwashing’ – a variety of marketing and political strategies aimed at promoting a product or an entity through an appeal to queer-friendliness.


Start inside! Look into yourself (be authentic) then research, get people on board to join you on the journey. If you get backlash for the project, then you will get support from the people who went along with you on the journey.

"Do not do what Ikea did! Own up to your mistakes."


There are not just LGBTQ actors – there are also Black, Asian, Disabled, Non-binary… Diverse!

"Putting a drag queen in an ad just to tick the box is controversial and not okay. It must be authentic and it has to have purpose."

How can straight white people do LGBTQ justice? Get input from the right people! Otherwise, you have no clue what you are doing. There is a high chance that you will get it wrong, when you can get it right. If you do get it right then there is a lot of positive ROI attached to it.

"If a 30sec ad is not enough then brands can use other channels to further explain their story if it is more complex."

What about labels?

Labels help advertiser’s shortcut information very quickly and they play a major role within the LGBTQ community.

Older generation had to fight for their rights, so they have more attachment to their label – the younger generation on the other hand is more fluid - “I don’t know what I am yet.”, “I have not decided yet.”

"Back then there were only a few options you were either this or that – today we are lucky to have more room to discover and explore ourselves in different ways."


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