NEW YORK — A new TV commercial features a good-looking young woman on a beach vacation lounging next to a good-looking young man. He bemoans the glare on his iPad, and she fills him in on the Kindle Paperwhite’s sun-friendly screen.
He clicks to buy one and suggests they celebrate with a drink.
“My husband’s bringing me a drink right now,” she chirps.
“So is mine,” he says with a smile as they turn to wave at two men sitting together at a pool bar.
Welcome to the latest in gay imagery in mainstream advertising, where LGBT people have been waiting for a larger helping of fairness, or at least something other than punchlines and cliches.
While there are still plenty of those, something has happened in advertising over the last two or three years, nearly two decades after Ikea broke ground with a TV spot featuring a gay couple shopping for a table — a spot that ran only once in New York and Washington and was pulled after bomb threats to Ikea stores.
Today, gay and lesbian parents and their kids are featured — along with celebrity Ellen DeGeneres — in J.C. Penney ads. Same-sex couples have their own, advertised wedding registries at Macy’s and elsewhere.
Two happy young men sit together eating at a dining table, with wine and romantic candlelight, in a section of a Crate & Barrel catalog marked “Us & Always.” And we made it through a Super Bowl without any gay jokes at commercial breaks — as happened in the Snickers ad several years ago featuring two men freaking out after kissing by accident while eating one of the candy bars.
Traditionally lagging behind TV and film content, advertisers in this country are facing much less trouble than they used to when taking on gay themes, observers said.
Penney’s rebuffed critics and launched a lesbian-focused catalog ad for Mother’s Day that the company followed with a two-dads family for Father’s Day.
Though Crate & Barrel declined comment for this story and Amazon didn’t respond to email requests about the Kindle ad, LGBT-focused marketers and monitors think advertising companies might finally be getting it.
“They’re no longer just targeting gay and lesbian people. They’re targeting people like my mom, who want to know that a company embraces and accepts their gay and lesbian family members, friends, and neighbors,” said Rich Ferraro, a spokesman for the media watchdog group the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
Bob Witeck, who consults for Fortune 100 companies on LGBT marketing and communications strategies, put the buying power of U.S. lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender adults at $790 billion last year. He estimated, roughly, the U.S. LGBT adult population at 16 million, though others say their ranks could be as many as 25 million.