We have been seeing an array of same-sex ladies and gents in ad campaigns lately. From H&M to J.Crew, Urban Outfitters, Ray-Ban, Kenneth Cole, Chanel, Givenchy, Gap and even JCPenney everyone is is seemingly trying to break out of the cookie-cutter mold and speak to today’s generation which obviously includes millions of gay and lesbian consumers. Some are a bit more tame and some are fantastically bold but regardless it is worth noting the companies who take steps in a positive direction.
When JCPenney hired the very out, very funny Ellen DeGeneres a conservative whack-job group called “One million moms” -despite comprising only 40,000 members or so (wishful thinking?)- took it upon themselves to voice concerns that little girls shopping in JCP stores would turn gay just looking at the sight of Ellen. Don’t they know its too late already? She has had a daytime talk show on cable television for nearly ten years.
Unfazed JCPenney stuck to their guns and their decision to hire Ellen. Even Fox news host Bill O’reilly who is the sounding board for right-wing conservative folks defended JCPenney’s decision. He likened the group's boycott of the Texas-based retail chain after they hired DeGeneres to a "witch hunt." He went on to note, "What is the difference between the McCarthy era of the '50s and the Million Moms saying, 'Hey, JCPenney and all you other stores, don't you hire any gay people. Don't you dare.' What is the difference?" [HuffPost]
Ellen went on to address the ridiculous hoopla on her show saying, ”This organization doesn't think I should be the spokesperson because I am gay. So for those of you tuning in for the first time, I'm gay. I hope you were sitting down. ... So they wanted to get me fired, and I'm proud and happy to say that jcpenney stuck by their decision to make me their spokesperson." JCP CEO Ron Johnson also responded by appearing on CBS, “...we stand squarely behind Ellen as our spokesperson and that's a great thing. Because she shares the same values that we do in our company. Our company was founded 110 years ago on The Golden Rule, which is about treating people fair and square, just like you would like to be treated yourself. And we think Ellen represents the values of our company and the values that we share."
JCPenny doesn’t just have one lesbian on their roster though, more recently they rolled out new ads featuring a lesbian married couple and their adorable daughter.
Swedish based retailer H&M also unveiled a new campaign for their Fashion Against AIDs collection that pledges to donate 25% of all proceeds directly to Aids research. Some of the couples in the ad’s are heterosexual and as you can see some are same-sex couples.
Kenneth Cole who has always used ads to vocalize important issues with a dash of humor put up billboards reading, “Gay people getting married? (Next they’ll be allowed to vote and pay taxes.) Shouldn’t all people be entitled to equal rights (& lefts)?”
“One Million Moms” got their panties in a bunch yet again however when the latest Urban Outfitters catalogue arrived in the mail and (gasp) two girls were kissing. They were made so uncomfortable by the single picture in an entire catalogue that they went so far as to release a “warning” on their website. Here is a thought, they would do themselves a much bigger favor going after the Jersey Shore for guiding young kids step-by-step into alcoholism and putting them on the fast track to a prime spot on MTV’s other show 16 & pregnant.
One commenter brilliantly noted, “Straight people must be far more vulnerable than gay people. Gay people spend their whole lives surrounded by straight people and media imagery, yet none of that turns them straight. Yet a picture of two girls kissing is going to make straight girls lesbians?”
Other brands such as Chanel and Givenchy have also periodically feathered in ad’s that include two women or two men together. In Chanel’s case it’s a bit more “legit” since one half of the couple was indeed out lesbian supermodel Freja Beha Erichsen who has been somewhat of a Don Juan within the modeling world dating a string of famous women like Catherine McNeil and more recently Arizona Muse.
Looking to shake up their image a bit and re-introduce customers with the brand, The Gap has released a fresh new campaign looking over the streets of New York City with a couple that is snuggled into the same shirt. Last year J.Crew also included two men in their catalogue. A Designer from their team and his camera shy boyfriend. They caption read, "Happy together. Our designer Somsack and his boyfriend, Micah"
Celebrating 75 years in the business of supplying everyone with cool shades Ray-Ban, who is having bit of an 80’s comeback moment, has two men featured in their ongoing “never hide” campaign. The image was purposefully shot to look like it had taken place in a Mad Men era where a gay couple, much less a gay couple holding hands in public, certainly would have been considered taboo. Appropriately, Ray-Ban’s motto for the campaign is, Never pretend. Never be afraid. Never give up. Never Hide.