Tuesday, December 6, 2011

New study on how gays and lesbians perceive advertising

A new study from the University of Miami interviewed 25 gay and lesbian Americans of different age, ethnic, and professional backgrounds on their reactions to commercials exemplifying dominant gay and lesbian portrayals. 
According to the study, five specific strategies emerged within these minority consumers to interpret the messages catered to them:

  • Gay men accepted the perception of "higher disposable income of gay male households" and transformed material consumption into a definition of self-worth. "I was on many consumer panels because I fit the profile of gay men who have disposable income and travel a lot," one participant said.
  • Participation in the mass market was equated to membership in mainstream society. "We got money. We contribute to the corporation. We contributed to big business. We got families. We are part of the mainstream now," a participant said.
  • Targeted advertising was identified as an essential step in achieving social political inclusion. "Consumer rights and citizenship, civil rights are intricately connected in the United States […]. And when we express our identity as a consumer, that reinforces and strengthens our identity as a citizen," a participant said.
  • Perpetuating problematic depictions of gays as effeminate men or lesbians as "sexualized femme" was tolerated in the interests of social inclusion. "I was ambivalent when watching this commercial. It's playing up the stereotype. But for me, if you can see gay people on TV in Texas, it's positive," one participant said.
  • Participants were willing to give up something of their subcultural identity for the sake of total acceptance in society. "When we are truly accepted in the society, we will just blend in […] even that might mean sacrificing our uniqueness," a participant said.

Source: "How Minority Consumers Use Targeted Advertising as Pathways to Self-Empowerment: Gay Men's and Lesbians' Reading of Out-of-the-Closet Advertising" Journal of Advertising Vol. 40 No. 3 Fall 2011.

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