by Sonoo Singh
Originally published: June 20, 2017
Social media continues to be used as the main-stage for expressions of LGBT+ rights, and when a big advertiser reflects the experiences of the community on television it elicits applause. Last year, Lloyds Bank prominently featured a same-sex couple’s marriage proposal in a TV ad. Its outdoor campaign showed the same couple with the words: "He said yes." An example of a brand that not only understands the business of gay pride, but also recognises the need to be inclusive of the LGBT+ community in its mainstream advertising. The same year, Tesco unveiled its "Basket dating" Valentine’s Day ad, which paired up potential dates based on the contents of their shopping baskets – another case of positive LGBT+ representation.
Brands have increasingly been reflecting broader changes in society. IKEA has been using diverse imagery in its ads since 1994, when it became the first marketer to feature a gay couple in a mainstream ad. In 1997, a Volks-wagen Golf ad featured two men who may have been a couple. Almost a decade ago, in 2008, a spot for Pepsi Max showed two men in a bar encouraging their friend to chat up a woman. The man takes a drink, then walks past two women – one being the model Kelly Brook – to approach another man at the end of the bar. The same year Heinz ran an ad for its Deli Mayo in which two men kissed each other goodbye before one left for work, although it was eventually pulled following complaints. In 2009, meanwhile, Absolut Vodka unveiled a rainbow-design bottle to mark the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots and four decades of gay pride.