Not exactly a household name yet, North Carolina upholstery company Mitchell Gold provides stylish, upholstered furniture to yuppy-centric home retailers like Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel and Restoration Hardware.
Mitchell Gold ads have appeared for about five years in Metropolitan Home, Elle Décor and House Beautiful and have featured hunky, shirtless guys and an English bulldog named Lulu. Advertising has also run in The Advocate featuring men moving furniture up stairs.
"We wanted to be 'family oriented,' just not Pat Buchanan's view of 'family,' " said Mitchell Gold, president-CEO of his eponymous company based in High Point, N.C., and "father" of Lulu.
Gold said a lot of people weren't sure what the ad was supposed to be showing. "I got lots of questions about what (the men) were supposed to be," he said. "I emailed them back, saying, 'It's whatever you want them to be.'"
The art director behind the ad, Stephen Feinberg was more direct about his intention to take on the issue of gay adoptions and families. "It adds legitimacy to a subject a lot of people paint as 'not legitimate.' We deliberately made the casting and clothing (of the models) very 'normal' to convey the statement that it is normal."
"In a very long career, this (campaign) is something I'm most proud of," said Feinberg. Though he is straight, Feinberg explained that he has a gay brother with a partner and "adoption is something we've talked about a lot for them."
Mitchell Gold spends approximately $1 million annually on advertising, unusual in an industry that rarely advertises directly to consumers. "When you're building a brand, you want to drive consumers to the store," explained Gold. Despite the success of his campaign, Gold took a practical position and said the next step isn't necessarily to make the ads more gay. "I'm running a business, I don't want to pigeonhole this and advertise just to gays."
Along with his business/romantic partner Robert Williams, executive VP-director of design at Mitchell Gold, Gold bought the furniture factory when it employed 50 people and grew it to 450 employees, then sold it to Rowe a year ago. "We've raised that standard in this community, raised the wage level. We've raised the bar altogether and the community appreciates that."
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