Homosexuals are now the targets of a new frenzy; the media frenzy. The gay and lesbian demographic is taking huge steps toward total recognition and acceptance. The GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender) community is finding a voice in society. Additionally, marketers are finding that the community has deep pockets. It is estimated that the GLBT market has a buying power of $450 billion and that they make up about 10% of the population (Prince, 2003). If 10% is an accurate figure, this means that approximately 29 million people in the United States belong to the GLBT community. So do marketers ignore 29 million people with 450 billion dollars to spend? Of course they don't. Companies are fighting over the gay dollar.
Subaru was the first automaker to market its cars specifically to gay and lesbian communities starting back in the mid-1990s. Subaru found that there were female heads of household that bought their cars. It turned out that most of these women identified as lesbian (Prince, 2003). They naturally started marketing to lesbians and it has been a successful plan. I have personally heard Subaru referred to as the lesbian vehicle of choice. Now, Ford has decided to try for a piece of the gay dollar. Ford has introduced a new Jaguar ad that targets the GLBT market. Ford did extensive research and now recognizes that 'gay consumers are well worth their time' (Prince, 2003). The print ad shows a man, a winding road, and a picture of the Jaguar X-Type. The text reads, 'Life is full of twists and turns. Care for a partner?' (Prince, 2003) The ad tries to convey meaning in two ways. The treacherous roads are easier to navigate with a well-equipped vehicle. There is also a more personal meaning. Gay people's lives are often filled with twists and turns. Those twists and turns in life are sometimes easier to navigate with some help, namely a partner.
These trends can also be seen in print as there are countless GLBT magazines. Many companies advertise in these magazines with gay themed ads. They tend to use same sex couples or gay symbols (rainbows, lambdas, ribbons) in the advertisements. Some ads feature openly gay celebrities such as Martina Navratilova, Melissa Etheridge, and Elton John. (Kahn, 1994). Subaru runs a full-page ad in the lesbian magazine 'Curve' that shows their cars sporting rainbow decals and HRC (Human Rights Campaign) logos as well as license plates from popular lesbian towns such as Provincetown, MA. Bud Light has an ad showing six people each wearing sunglasses that are a different color. Together, the colors of the sunglasses are a rainbow. The text of the ad reads, 'Be yourself. Make it a Bud Light.'. Miller Lite follows suit with an advertisement containing two men in an affectionate pose. The text reads, 'Threesome-My Man, My Beer, My Miller Time. More Than Friends' (Commercial Closet, 2003). Gay and lesbian individuals are a prime market segment and some companies are brave enough and smart enough to step up to the plate and market to them in ways that are appropriate and non-offensive.