The Rise Of LGBT Marketing
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report
News and insights from the global PR industry

The Rise Of LGBT Marketing

Holmes Report

GMC is the largest sponsor of Elevation Mammoth, one of the largest ski weeks for the gay community being held this week. Of course, this is one of many examples of brands that have amped up outreach – primarily to gays and lesbians– who are often grouped with the bisexual and transgender community under the LGBT moniker. General Motors' targeted outreach to the gay community started in the early 2000s with some media buys. Since then, its outreach has grown substantially – including a pair of widely praised ads shown during the Sochi Winter Olympics. But given the diversity in the LGBT community, General Motors pays close attention to making sure there’s a genuine connection between the brand and the target demographic, says Joe LaMuraglia, LGBT communications manager at GM who ran a website Gaywheels.com before joining the automaker in 2010. [caption id="attachment_1904" align="alignright" width="150"]Tom Whitman Tom Whitman[/caption] For instance, the Mammoth sponsorship aligns with GMC’s outdoorsy vibe. Meanwhile, Chevrolet’s sponsorship of the Lesbians Who Tech Summit in San Francisco earlier this month revolved around electric cars and other automotive gadgetry. Tom Whitman leads the LGBT arm at Radarworks – a West Coast-based integrated marketing firm. In addition to GMC, his team has worked with AT&T on its “Love is Changing History” videos and with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the first “LGBT Night Out at Dodgers Stadium.” While Radarworks has been around for 18 years, its LGBT arm – called Flip – started just under two years ago. The work is primarily creative design for TV, social media and events – but increasingly, it is branded content like the AT&T videos. It’s worth noting, Cohn & Wolfe’s former Los Angeles president Kazumi Mechling became CEO of Radarworks last fall. The budgets, Whitman says, usually come from diversity marketing but many campaigns are crossing into general marketing and advertising. As this happens, the danger is losing sight of what’s unique to the community. “It’s a very diverse group,” Whitman reiterates. “Our demographics are all over, but there are a lot of commonalities too…I think the ‘T’ [transsexual community] is the next frontier.” Before brands can take this on, how can ones that have made missteps with the LBGT community make amends? Whitman points to Clear Channel as an example to follow. The telecoms giant went from being perceived negatively in LGBT circles to scoring a 100% on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index.  (The company’s current rating is a decent 75%). “They were authentic and they did their homework,” Whitman says. For instance, Clear Channel changed its internal policies and started supporting LGBT events with dollars and resources. “The reason I started Flip is there’s a real cultural shift happening,” Whitman adds. Photo: Chevy ad shown during 2014 Olympics
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