About nine years ago, I learned that MTV Networks was launching a television network for the LGBT community. Today, the idea of an LGBT channel is hardly revolutionary -- but the cultural landscape was very different back in 2003. It was pre-Brokeback Mountain, pre-Modern Family and Lady Gaga was just a senior in high school. Politically, we were dealing with one of the most conservative presidential administrations in YEARS. The fact that the parent company of Nickelodeon, one of the most influential children’s brands in the world, was behind Logo struck me as absolutely remarkable. I remember thinking, “I MUST be a part of this launch.”
OK, so here is where I come out of the closet. I am not gay. I am an Upper West Side mother of two, married to a rabbi. Yet, I always believed LGBT rights were human rights and the business argument for advertising to the LGBT community was undeniable. Here was an audience that had tremendous buying power (estimated at $790B in 2013*), was known for being fiercely brand loyal (74% will choose to buy products marketed directly to them**), and had a reputation for being incredibly trend-setting. This was the perfect advertising trifecta! Logo launched in 2005 in 13MM homes with three brave advertisers and I luckily have been along for the ride as we have grown the business to 53MM homes and over 400 advertisers.
There has been a major cultural shift these past eight years. Obama has put an end to DOMA, more and more states are legalizing gay marriage and celebrities from hip hop artists to sports stars are calling an end to discrimination based on sexual orientation. The lines between gay and straight culture are seemingly becoming ever more blurred. With these changes, people ask me all the time if advertising in gay media is still necessary. “Can’t you reach gay consumers everywhere?”
In my opinion, advertising directly to the gay community is now more critical than ever.
Why? Today more than ever, consumers are brand savvy. They want to know that the brands they support – support them. By advertising directly to the consumer in LGBT media, you are saying to an audience of sophisticated consumers that you are on their side. This type of direct outreach is critical in differentiating your brand from the crowd and building a relationship with an engaged consumer.
Also, in the age of social media, one’s opinions about brands are no longer their own. Consumers happily share their opinions on social media (and the LGBT community over indexes significantly on social for usage, posting, sharing and more***). This can work in a brand’s favor when the gay community is on your side (think Bertolli pasta) or against a brand when the gay community knows you waiver on issues of equality (think Barilla pasta).
As the LGBT community wraps up its most historic year yet, I am curious and excited to see how brands will leverage the growing power of the LGBT community moving forward.
*Witeck Combs and MarketResearch.com, 2012 **Harris Interactive, July 2011 *** Source: North American Technographics Online Benchmark Survey (Part 2), 2013
For more information about how Logo can help your brand/s with the LGBT community please reach out to me: Amy.Wigler@logostaff.com