Rich Ferraro, GLAAD's Vice President of Communications and Programs, recently spoke to NPR about ongoing changes in advertisements targeting LGBT people and how the advertising industry has started to "come out of the closet." Along with Robert Klara, a staff writer at AdWeek, host Sonari Glinton focused on the shift in brands that now include LGBT images in their ads.
Speaking about LGBT-specific advertisements starting in the 1980s, Ferraro said it was "mainly spirit brands marketing directly to gay men at the time. You saw images running in gay magazines or at gay events that featured a lot of shirtless white guys on beaches, or drag queens, and played up on stereotypes of the community."
In the 1990's, Klara said advertisements began incorporating "coded" messages that were intelligible only to some, pointing to a 1997 Volkswagen Golf ad. Klara explained, "Heterosexuals who saw those two just assumed they were friends or roommates, whereas the gay community assumed they were boyfriends."
More recently, advertisements are becoming explicit in their inclusion of LGBT people, and they're coming from mainstream brands such as Marriott's #LoveTravels campaign.
"There are traditional brands, like Johnson & Johnson, who are not only trying to reach those families who are raising children, but also trying to reach people like my mom, who open the magazine or who turn on the television and expect advertisements that reflect their world," Ferraro told NPR Sunday Edition. "And today that world includes LGBT families."