Targeted: Gay Men as Marketing Tools

This opinion piece looks into the targeted marketing of gay men.

I hope this article finds you in a shopping mall.

Numerous brands have figured out that vast majority of gay population victims of consumerism and retail therapy addicts, so they have decided to orient their marketing tools towards gay men and speak directly or indirectly to them.

This type of targeting is not restricted to products that are tentatively designed for gay men (such as lubricants or jockstraps), but it is also utilized in promotion of many “heteronormative” products. Further on, this type of aesthetic is more and more prominent in plethora of marketing campaigns, on billboards, in TV ads and in diverse forms of social media promotional posts.

Deconstruction of such phenomenon would bring multiple causes to the surface, yet pundits have found three major reasons for omnipresence of gay aesthetic in contemporary marketing: first of all, gay men are great customers; then, colourful and erotic aesthetic is luring and catchy for many, especially for cisgender heterosexual women; afterall, big portion of sagacious marketing campaigns are created by gay men.

One of the things that make this marketing strategy transparent is a fact that naked male body is ubiquitous in many advertisements, even when it would be more logical for a model to be dressed. A perfect example is the ad for Old Spice where half-naked muscular guy rides a horse and says few prosaic lines directly to women, but also indirectly to gay men who represent high number of potential buyers.

Some experts even claim that gay men buy more cosmetic products, designer’s clothing and underwear than straight men, although such claims are not supported by empirical arguments. Yet, no matter what the percentage of gay buyers in general buyers population is, it is obviously substantial enough to be targeted by most Calvin Klein campaigns, H&M underwear campaigns, perfume campaigns, etc. Targeting gay men reflects in many other visual elements (not only through naked body), and it is certainly the most prevalent in fashion industry.

More and more brands go even step further by releasing a limited series explicitly dedicated to gays. Most of these collections are presented in June, the month of Pride, serving as a direct support for the Pride events all over the world.

One of the leading companies supporting and promoting Pride is Nike. For the past few years, Nike had been dropping a limited collection of sportswear and shoes inspired by LGBQT aesthetic with rainbow colors under the hashtag BeTrue. In 2014, the company donated half a million from the sales of such collection to the organizations that fight for LGBQT rights. Among other brands that have annual Pride collections are Converse, Adidas, Levi’s, Urban Outfitters, etc.

Instead of conclusion, let me remind you of all the showbiz superstars-slash-gay icons who built or maintained their careers by making gay men their primary target group (Cher, Madonna, Kylie, Xtina, Britney, Ariana, to name a few).

As Samantha Jones would put it: First come the gays, and then girls, and then showbiz, fame and fortune.

Written by Filip Teovanovic

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