Google is the latest company to take a public position in support of gay rights with its ‘Legalize Love’ campaign. Marketing experts claim that these moves are highly calculated by the companies, not just feel-good initiatives. According to Witeck-Combs Communications, the gay, transgender, lesbian and bisexual community in the United States has the buying power of $790 billion annually. Witeck-Combs Communications also said that gays have influence in buying power for the straight community as well because of friends and family members.
Bob Witeck, the founder of Witeck-Combs, said that companies “have to satisfy shareholders at the end of the day.”
The campaign from Google was released last week and it follows the campaign from J.C. Penney on Mother’s and Father’s Day that featured same-sex parents. It also follows a Gap ad that featured a male Broadway performer and his boyfriend as well as Target selling t-shirts for the Family Equality Council. The Family Equality Council lobbies against same-sex marriage bans in the state of Minnesota.
The campaign from Google is targeting foreign governments that criminalize same-sex activities and that permit discrimination. An increasing amount of America’s largest corporations have policies that guarantee equal treatment for LGBT employees, according to the Human Rights Campaign. A recent survey released by Out Now Consulting, in association with Gay Ad Network, said that 80 percent of its respondents say it is either very or somewhat important to them that a possible employer has a diversity and equality policy.
Gay-themed advertisements in mainstream media have a powerful impact, according to the survey from Out Now Consulting. Companies are finding out that leaving niche publications and entering mainstream media can help them acquire attention and even loyalty. LGBT consumers were surveyed by Harris Interactive in conjunction with Witeck-Combs in 2011 that found 71 percent of respondents are likely to stay loyal to a specific brand if they appear to be gay-friendly “even when less friendly companies may offer lower prices or be more convenient.”
The founder and CEO of Out Now Consulting, Ian Johnson, said that the stakes are higher now than in the past for the gay market.
“They’re not just marketing to the 15 million Americans who identify as gay or lesbian. They’re marketing to the millions of people who support their work colleagues, their friends, their family. As America is aging and Gen X and Y are moving into middle management, this is the core market. It is a very strong statement for brand positioning.”