This Pride season has been ripe with controversy, at least to individuals that don’t support the gay lifestyle. Times have greatly changed since the Presidential election of 2008. We as a society want answers, we want results, and we want dedication. Responses that are both complacent and skate around the issue no longer get results. We want something that is concrete and not neutral.
With President Obama’s announcement that he supports same-sex marriage a veritable wave of support and decisiveness has flooded the nation. It’s refreshing to be in a time where people are finally stating their ideals and what they support. Celebrities such as Jay-Z, 50 Cent, and Carrie Underwood have, literally, come out in support of the issue. Individuals are no longer straddling both sides of the fence in fear of offending others with what they believe or think.
So just as individuals are making this stand, so are companies and corporations. JCPenney, Target, and Chevrolet have rolled out a plethora of Pride inspired ads and merchandise. For many of these corporations, this can be the proverbial bullet in the gun they use to shoot themselves in the foot. These ads and merchandise run the risk of polarizing conservative consumers, however, can also carry an advantageous edge. More individuals are coming out of the closet and so are their supporters. This is the chance for corporations to gain the respect and following of this growing consumer.
Beyond the obvious possibility of increasing a profit, this visual statement shows the public these corporations stand by their consumer and their employees. Consumers want to know that they are respected and valued. What could be more gratifying than to see your favorite distributor or store supporting your predestined lifestyle? Advertising is beginning to reflect the consumer’s realistic lifestyle beyond the flashy, glossy and fake idealized version.
JCPenney is standing by its decision to feature a lesbian, Ellen Degeneres, as their spokes person and a same-sex couple in their father’s day weekly flyer. Target is widely promoting their support for the gay community by plastering the rainbow insignia on their website and selling pride-themed T-shirts. Chevrolet is showing their support by featuring an electric vehicle “coming out” to his parent vehicles as being “electric” (mirroring the impending conversation every homosexual must have with their parents).
All these corporations are expressing their support in different manners. Some blatantly showing their stand and some taking a more humorous approach. Whichever way they choose to show their support, one thing is clear, beyond the issue of sexual orientation, advertising is now reflecting a larger public; the consumer.