Gay advertising is coming out to mainstream America in a groundbreaking dot-com campaign.
Gfn.com is set to become the first gay-oriented company to advertise in many major U.S. business, news and entertainment publications.
The ads promote gfn.com as a gay-friendly financial news and information site to Internet users, advertisers and investors-and take a gentle swipe at homophobia in the business world.
An increasing number of marketers, including International Business Machines, UAL's United Airlines and Anheuser-Busch, run ads with a gay theme, but they generally confine them to the gay press. While a television commercial or print ad with a gay reference occasionally creeps into mainstream media, it usually is for a fashion brand and often is so subtle or ambiguous that many heterosexuals might not realize the message.
The ads conclude: "gfn.com is empowering the gay community toward realizing our American dream."
Walter B. Schubert Jr., chairman of gfn.com, says the two-year-old company aims to enhance its visibility among all investors-gay and straight-and increase traffic to its Web site with the provocative ads. "The ads may be a little offensive to some readers," he says, "but we want to go to the next level and reach serious investors. That means we must be in national business and news publications."
Gfn.com's media strategy may not be the most cost-efficient way to reach the company's primary audience of gay Internet users. Still, marketing experts believe it will generate buzz and boost gfn.com's reputation in the gay community.
"People in focus groups repeatedly tell me they want companies to show they are truly committed to the gay market by running a gay ad in Time magazine, not just in the Advocate or Out," says Paul Poux, who runs a gay-oriented marketing firm in New York, referring o two popular gay publications. "It's like a litmus test that will show them the company isn't merely out to take advantage of their disposable income."
Ronald Alsop, The Wall Street Journal. February 17, 2000.
Copyright © 2000 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.. All rights reserved.