Hidden Meanings Essay, Research Paper
Advertisements give most of us the idea of perfection in ourselves and in our culture. Many times companies target our sense of beauty by presenting us with perfect people utilizing their products. In other cases they use catchy and witty slogans to grab our interest. Setting moods and tones in advertisements plays a major role in how the ad will be perceived by its intended audience. Companies are now discovering the benefits of targeting the gay community, which is estimated to include more than 10 percent of the population (qtd. in Lukenbill 1). Relying on the human desire to be perfect, as well as utilizing gay stereotypes, companies target gay men through sex appeal, slogans and color.
Sex appeal is greatly associated with alcohol; thought to be the center of the party scene by most people and known for its ability to allow people to let go of their inhibitions. In many large cities around the United States gay clubs either equal or outnumber the amount of straight clubs even though straight people outnumber gays 9 to 1 (qtd in Lukenbill 1). This alone would make most alcohol companies jump at the opportunity to win loyalty from gay consumers. Genre, a gay magazine, has over 16 ads for various kinds of alcohol and Out, another gay publication, has more than 20. These ads, however, are much different than those found in straight magazines. For example, a slogan for Bacardi in Out magazine stated Come out…and stay out which is most likely a references to being open about one s sexuality (Out 52-53). This reference would not likely be used in a straight magazine, such as Sports Illustrated or Maxim, and is unique to the gay community. The advertisement s background is also red, a color that is associated with the male sex drive, passion and lust; letters and symbols in the ad are all in black, which is the color of deception and mystery. A place of mystery and sexual desire one might gather that this ad is attempting to define the club scene with alcohol and how it makes one feel. This ad is typically successful in making gay people more aware of their sexuality and encourages them to come out, in addition to supporting gay pride, even if it is just to turn a profit.
Gay men, probably more so than their straight counterparts, are targets of fashion advertising. Camille Paglia, The Advocates head design consultant states Gay men, much like women, attract men by wearing eye-catching clothes (14). A fashion industry study reported that the average man spends $900 a year on clothing (Van de Mark 1). The average for gay men per year is more than one and a half times that much ( Targeting the gay consumer ); considering that gay men also took part in the fashion industry survey the percentage could be much higher. This is probably directly related to most gay men’s desire to look seamless, and their willingness to pay for it. Realizing this, many clothing makers have catered their clothing lines and advertisements to the gay male. Gucci, Versaci, Banana Republic and Prada, which are some of the most prestigious clothing lines, have more than 10 advertisements in any Genre or Out magazine; in the straight male magazine Maxim there is not one high-priced clothing line advertised. Genre features, for example, a Gucci ad with an empty tan background which grows lighter as it nears the model. The beautiful and perfect male which occupies the expensive fabrics appears to illuminate against the dull background. His high-priced clothing shows fashion at its finest and is most likely made to appeal to the gay mans sex appeal and since of beauty through the use of color. The majority of gay men, both stereotypically and statistically, are very concerned with fashion and physical appearances. The perfect models from virtually all clothing lines dress the pages of gay magazines much different than those of straight ones; gay advertisements tend to focus on male beauty and sexual attraction as opposed to power and ruggedness.
Focusing on the idea of perfection while utilizing sex appeal, color and slogans, many companies target gay men individually in attempts to raise their profits. Most gay-aimed advertisements, much like straight ads, focus on what their intended consumers are stereotypically; in reality gay men are as diverse and different, if not more, than any other group. Many gay men, however, make large strides to be that stereotype which is further fueled by advertisements. Companies aiming ads at the gay community is a relatively new practice, a practice that still needs much development to target all gay men.
Bacardi. Come Out. . . and stay out Out Oct 2001: 52-53
Lukenhill, Grant. 60 years counting queers: Gay population studies since Kinsey
Gay.com Interactive 23 Jul. 1999 .
Paglia, Camille. Not so much different: techniques of gay men and straight women
The Advocate July 2001: 14.
Targeting the gay consumer Jobcircle
Van de Mark, Donald. Men put their money into a new passion: fashion
CNN Interactive 31 Jul 1998