Brands coming out for Gay Pride. A gold mine for advertisers.

July 2, 2008

“Nice Altoids, Boys!”

In a honor of Gay Pride week I’d like to give the gay community a shout-out for their uncanny ability at predicting and/or creating trends. No group of people I know are as adept at predicting the future for fashion, neighborhoods and brands as this stylish minority.

Background: I grew up in the Lake View neighborhood in Chicago. During the 70’s New Town (as it was called) was vastly different from the bustling and trendy neighborhood it is now. Latin street gangs patrolled and regularly fought over turf in the blocks north and south of Wrigley field. The only time it was truly safe to traverse these troubled blocks was during home games for the then lowly Chicago Cubs.

Enter the first gay pioneers. Attracted to the housing stock and cheap rents, they saw something in the rows of battered two-flats and graffiti-ridden apartment buildings. Maybe it was the proximity to our lakefront or perhaps it was the closest to Lincoln Park their “kind” was allowed. Regardless, they arrived replete with big ideas and Donna Summer blaring on the radio. Window treatments went up. Gentry-fication erupted and never stopped.

I won’t comment on what kind of impact all this had on my adolescence. Watching two men go at it on a dumpster was quite a ‘slap to the cerebellum.’ More pleasant was the change to my scruffy, downright dangerous neighborhood. Within ten years Lakeview became one of Chicago’s darling neighborhoods -our little village. Without the collective intuition of my gay brethren none of this would have happened. Chicago owes them a debt of gratitude.

And so do many other phenomena, including the rise of numerous commercial brands. Absolut vodka comes to mind. This bit player became a huge phenomenon in American culture because of two things: a killer print campaign and the passionate following of gay consumers. They embraced the simple, clear bottle and the series of arty posters from TBWA, making both icons. For better or worse, disco music was gay music. John Travolta merely finished what countless other young men started. The same can be said for health and fitness. Working out was gay religion. Arnold’s movie, Pumping Iron, came out in 1977. The rest is history. And so on and so forth…

Indeed, watching the gay parade last week was like watching popular culture marching forward, the festive floats sponsored by countless forward thinking brands, and supported by a coterie of ambitious politicians. They weren’t there for the free condoms. They wanted support from the gay community. Same as all the sponsors.


8 Responses to “Brands coming out for Gay Pride. A gold mine for advertisers.”

  1. Voiceofreason said

    From God to Gays, you’re certainly covering a lot of ground. What’s next: terrorists?

  2. SRP said

    I’m not sure terrorists would make very good consumers (don’t they kind of hate that Western stuff?), unless of course you’re selling weapons or anthrax.

  3. dave silver said

    Hello Stephan,this is the Lord, your God (we all make mistakes) Yes I have internet access as well as great seats for the Lakers. When I created the universe, mostly because I bet Gabriel that I could create man, then take his hair away, it took me 6 days. I rested on the 7th because I could see it was going to take off. Your website, on the other hand, well let me just say Noah had more parakeets than you have viewers. It seems, you can count them on one hand (my invention) and one of those fingers (fingers, also me) seems to be you.
    I should also tell you that, the Creative Director at the pool you mentioned, the one you say was cheating on his wife, well I’m having one of my assistants make sure he gets a good lawyer (yes, also my idea, as i said above, “we all make mistakes), anyway I’m having one of my assistants get in in his head that he should sue your phony self rightous ass for a million and a half dollars for liable (liable wasn’t mine but I kind of like it. Wish it was around when my son was down there.
    Think about what thou say in this virtual universe you idiots have created, though i like the spirit of it. And of the consequences it has on reputations and families. Don’t bother getting back to me, i will be yet another non-viewer of this site

  4. SRP said

    Love the reply from God bit but I don’t think He’d be so mean and spiteful -do you? also not sure why a funny post about a ridiculous unnamed creative director from years ago would get you so riled up? Unless…you’re…him! Thanks for writing Silver Dave. May your God go with you.

  5. Tom Fath said

    I think you should be addressing the baby boomers, walking lab rats for the pharmecutical companies. They depend on prescriptions to stop their going problems, erectile dysfunction, allergies, constipation, high blood pressure, cholesterol, gastroesophageal reflux, sleep apnea and depression. They spend billions of dollars and represent a trend much bigger then the gay community. I applaud the chances they take, even with the severe side effects that most of these drugs cause. They are the true pioneers, the first to walk into unknown consequences. Let’s celebrate their role in test marketing new product and creating exciting new trends for the other rats.

  6. Jason Fox said

    I would hope God would have a better grasp of punctuation.

  7. Mike from Arc said

    I’m pretty sure God knows how to spell “libel” correctly, too.

  8. SRP said

    Mike from Arc-
    That’s why he’s God and I’m not. Thanks for reading, writing and proofing my copy!

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