Thursday, June 29, 2006

Lesbians in Advertising

Apparently there are still too few of them. I saw this headline this morning while Googling for stories about the French Connection court case relating to whether is FCUK immoral. It's not, in case you were wondering, a judge said so.

It was the top headline on Google, chiefly because, of course, of Trevor Beattie and his recent kung fu-fighting lesbian kissing models, which we covered extensively on Brand Republic.

While Beattie's ad might have done nothing for French Connection in terms of sales – the retailer issued its third profits warning in the last 18 months last month, with like-for-like sales across UK and Europe falling by 2% since the end of January, it did kick up a storm (127 plus complaints) and seems to have resulted in Beattie McGuinness Bungay losing work. Campaign reported last week that French Connection is in talks with Yellow Door, a specialist retail ad agency, about a brief for an upcoming campaign, signalling the first time the fashion retailer has stepped outside of the long-standing relationship between its chairman, Stephen Marks, and Beattie.

It was a great fun ad, but did it say anything about the brand? Mmm, possibly not and there was the small thing that it resulted in French Connection being accused of “ripping off” a music video by Groovecutters. It emerged that the ad was a shot-for-shot copy of the video for its top 40 hit 'We Close Our Eyes', which was released in January last year.

Back to lesbian advertising, according to (you remember the sort of funnyish, but not really funny US comedy ‘Ellen’ that ran for ever until Ellen DeGeneres came out of the closet) there is an archive of lesbian and gay themed ads -- the Commercial Closet, which holds just over 100 North American television commercials featuring lesbians, compared to more than 300 for men.

Gay men seem to get it better in TV ads. Not sure why that could be. And last year there were just 19 lesbian-themed national commercials that ran in the US.

It lists some of the biggest ads in recent US TV history including a 2000 spot starring Martina Navratilova who was featured along with other female athletes in a Subaru commercial, where she delivers the line, "What do we know? We're just girls".

Subaru even pulled off an endorsement-within-an-endorsement when it agreed to a product placement on The L Word in 2004 and was depicted as the corporate sponsor of a tennis player.

In 2003, however, Melissa Etheridge and Tammy Lynn Michaels appeared in a Cartier ad holding hands and smiling at each other. Apparently they wear locking bracelets that "symbolize everlasting love and attachment". So now you know.

I make it just one in the UK, but it did have some Wushu as well, so surely extra points for that.

There's lots more on lesbian advertising, should you have the time or the inclination.


At 1:05 PM, Blogger WRHornbeck said...

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At 4:04 PM, Anonymous Gertrude Stein said...

I'm all for more lesbian advertising. A lesbian is a lesbian is a lesbian.


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