OPINION: What advertisers really think of their gay customers

Andrew Creagh:
By Andrew Creagh: | 23 October 2012

I was recently interviewed for an ABC TV news story called Advertisers Miss Big Bucks Ignoring Gay Consumers. The cameraman wanted to film me reading the gay magazine I edit, DNA. “Flick through and stop on your fragrance ads,” he directed.

“We don’t have any,” I replied. “That’s the point of your story.”

Roy Morgan’s latest round of data estimates that gay and lesbian spending power in Australia is $20 billion annually. So, where are the fragrance ads in DNA? Where is Qantas, Hugo Boss, Diesel, Calvin Klein, Louis Vuitton, Audi, Honda, Lexus? Don’t they want our money? Neither Schick nor Gillette think gay men shave, apparently.

It’s not as though these brands have overlooked the gay market. Their PR companies constantly badger us for editorial coverage, but very few are prepared to back up their PR evangelism and commit to an ad spend.

Agencies commonly cite two reasons for not buying space in the gay press. The first is: “We don’t have any artwork that suits your audience.” By this they mean they don’t have any artwork with drag queens, leather men waving rainbow flags or party boys in hots pants. Seriously, this is what they think gay readers want, even though we tell them otherwise.

The second reason defies logic but is trotted out regularly: “We don’t want to alienate our existing straight audience.” In other words, if gay men start buying Gillette razor blades, straight men will stop buying them. That implies that straight men are paying much more attention to gay men’s shopping trollies than could possibly have been imagined! And if they happen to see an ad for Gillette in DNA, perhaps they aren’t as straight as was thought.

Clemenger’s ECD, Paul Nagy, was interviewed for the same ABC story as I was. He said advertisers took a “holistic approach” to marketing and didn’t want to “stick their heads out into any of these niche markets”. I don’t want advertisers to stick their heads out – I just want them to include us in their schedules. By definition, a holistic marketing strategy should deliver your message to a broad range of potential customers, including niche markets, not a narrow range as is currently the case.

Yes, we are a niche and will never have the same local print readership as other titles, but our advertising comes at a tenth of the price. And, for the record, DNA readers spend 600% more on grooming products than the average Australian male (according to our reader survey results compared to Australian Bureau Of Statistics figures).

In Europe and North America, business is tapping into this lucrative market sector (worth $2 trillion in the USA). It will happen in Australia, too, and agencies will need to be ready to think beyond their standard default settings when planning these campaigns.

Andrew Creagh
Founding Editor
DNA magazine

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