Tuesday, December 13, 2005

P&G Stands Ground in Support of 'Gay' Ads

I avoid politics. I am a scientist. I leave it to the politicians, and I learned while writing an opinion column for two years that no matter what I write, Republicans will see me as a communist, and Democrats will see me as a fascist. However, a front page story on Ad Age brought joy to me today and led me to approach the political line. It seems that the conservative-based American Family Association was not able to force Procter & Gamble from advertising in television programs "promoting the homosexual lifestyle" as AFA cheered last year.

In order to pressure the nation's largest advertiser out of shows such as NBC's 'Will and Grace' and Bravo's "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," AFA launched a boycott of P&G products. When no P&G ads showed up in the programs the next week, AFA sent out a press release and proclaimed victory.

Not so fast. Last week a P&G spokesperson told Ad Age, "We didn't change our media buys. If we didn't show up in advertising [on the two shows around the time the boycott ended] it was either because the episode content didn't fit our guidelines or because there was no inventory available." So poor sampling led AFA to the wrong conclusion.

Ad Age goes on to say, "Despite AFA's efforts, gay media is having 'another banner year.' " It seems that double income no kids goes a little farther in a capitalistic society than Mississippi-based bigotry wrapped in a wholesome name. I'll wear my clothes washed in Tide a little more proudly tomorrow.

In the meantime, I continue to address this topic in a study with my colleague James Angelini, who designed the study. Although the data await formal write up, I will offer a sneak peak here. Despite the fact that participants report more favorable attitudes to print advertisements with heterosexual portrayals, the ads with homosexual portrayals are better remembered. Importantly, these ads were for mainstream, equally familiar brands, such as Bud Light. Is is better to be remembered or persuaded. We shall see.

Much data analysis remains to be done, but perhaps America is more ready to accept mainstream ads in programming with some homosexual content than ads with actual gay and lesbian portrayals. Nonetheless, the flood gates are open, and as with other underrepresented groups in the past, homosexuals are moving toward a balanced representation on television. That is, we will soon see favorable and unfavorable portrayals of homosexuals on TV. As is the case with the dominant WASP portrayals now, there are good and bad members of any group, and "fair" TV should reflect that diversity.

In the meantime, religious conservatives, rest assured that the free market you champion is doing its job. AFA's members' budgets are stretched thin paying to feed and clothe that family about which they care so much. They have less disposable income, and it is difficult to avoid P&G at retailers such as Wal-Mart. Meanwhile -- in part because of AFA favored legislation hindering gay adoption -- their gay and lesbian targets have oodles of discretionary income. And corporate America has taken notice.


Blogger IUAngelini said...

Woo hoo! I got a mention!

And the results won't remain unwritten for long. It's on my list of things to do over break, particularly when I'm home alone on X-Mas Day.

1:59 PM  

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