Just when I was thinking it's been a long time since I've seen a half-decent advert featuring gay people, this lovely ad popped up on Facebook 👇🏼
Firstly this advert caught my eye because it features a same-sex couple. But secondly because, even with today's clever targeting and profiling on social media it's still extremely rare for me to be presented with mainstream ads featuring LGBT people. As it's LGBT History Month, this got me thinking and I thought I'd get my thoughts down here.
As mentioned, the Durex advert stood out to me like a shiny coin. I mean admittedly most gay people don't actually look like Ronaldo, and we're not all 19 and skinny with lovely hair, but I still felt an instant connection - a connection that occurs when brands feature people like me.
What feels especially poignant about this particular ad is it subtly highlights just how far advertising has come since the frightening AIDS tombstones of the 80s and 90s. I mean we've literally gone from 'You will die' to an innocent happy couple enjoying a quick romantic moment. Surely anybody, straight or gay will see this ad and think 'aw aren't they nice', like I did. Won't they?
Nope! It still triggered comments from straight people who find the advert irrelevant because the people in it are gay. These are all real comments I've copied from campaigns featuring same-sex couples:
"What does this have to do with gay people?"
"I don't see why you've made this political!"
"Stop shoving the LGBT agenda down my throat"
"First I was planning to order but when I looked at the pictures, I stopped 🛑 I think is not for me..!!"
When brands feature a gay person, couple or family (or a black person, couple or family, come to think of it), 'people' and I think you know the type of people I mean, find it necessary to comment about how alienated they are because a gay (or black, perhaps) couple are presented to them, using a product they enjoy, rather than a straight person or couple. I'm talking about adverts here, but actually the same issue applies to all TV and film, too.
Why ironic? Let's flip this around. As a gay person I am repeatedly presented with straight people/couples/families advertising literally everything, from breakfast cereal to cars, holidays, clothes, furniture - everything. But this barrage of straight people in my line of vision, using products and services I enjoy has zero effect on my decision to buy. Why would it? Gay and straight people use these products in exactly the same way.
When I see straight people on TV or social media It wouldn't cross my mind to complain about it and if I was inclined to complain about straight people littering my ITV and Facebook experience, I would literally be posting pointless comments 1000 times a day.
I guess if I had to conclude with a thought for the day; to complain about gay people on TV or advertising something on social media is exactly the same as me complaining about straight people on TV or advertising something - completely bananas.
But, when a brand includes people like me, they stand out like a bright headlight in the dark - I feel included.