Sunday, August 2, 2009




Rhiannon Johns
Briana Gutierrez
Christina Sanchez
Travis Harr
Natalie Garcia
            Commodity Lesbianism

Description of Topic:

                The author sets out to study the lack of representation of the lesbian community in a consumer culture that is largely based on heterosexuality and heterosexual norms.  The article concludes that since lesbians have not been targeted as a separate consumer group they essentially have a different relation to consumerism.  It carefully looks at the relation between lesbians and consumer culture, current representations of lesbianism and consumption in media, and the role of the lesbian spectator as a consuming subject.  Clark looks at economics, homophobia, and heterosexism as reasons why the lesbian community hasn’t been targeted and has been inadequately represented.  She examines fashion layouts from Elleand Mirabella as well as mail-order catalogues such as J. Crew to explain how advertisers are capitalizing on a dual market strategy known as “gay window advertising” which speaks indirectly to the lesbian consumer market without alienating heterosexual consumers.

Summary of Key Points:

                Clark discusses how lesbians have not been targeted for several historical reasons.  Initially, lesbians have not been attractive to advertisers because they are not economically powerful.  Since lesbians represent all races, ethnicities, income levels, and ages they are not easily identifiable as a social group, which also creates a problem for advertisers used to separating these categories.  Advertisers also fear that the product will be associated with homosexuality and heterosexual consumers will not buy it, thus many companies feel it’s too risky.  This is why advertisers have come up with the dual market strategy referred to as “gay window advertising.”  These ads avoid explicit references to heterosexuality or homosexuality and models often emit an androgynous style which allows for the onlooker to perceive the ad however they want.  Lesbians can read into the ad’s elements which may be representations of the gay and lesbian culture as they see fit.  If the ad is successful, heterosexual consumers don’t notice the subtexts, and advertisers are able to reach both the homosexual market with the heterosexual market without revealing the ads true intent.                    

Discussion Questions:

1.       Can anyone recall ever seeing an advertisement or commercial that featured a lesbian model or celebrity?

2.       Would you be less interested in purchasing a product if it was advertised to lesbians?  If so, do you think it should be allowed during regular viewing hours or after midnight with other late night provocative commercials?

3.       What type of insecurities do you think some viewers may have with advertising directly to the lesbian community?



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4H7YHptSkU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPp7fmJMpLs

26 comments:

Bobby said...

Marketing strategies aimed at a specific demographic (e.g., lesbians) have no bearing on whether or not I make a purchase. I'm not a big fan of the FCC's arbitrary rulings on what is or isn't "moral"...so I don't think that it should matter when a commercial airs.

Matt said...

I don't think having a product marketed at lesbians should hinder someone else's choice on using it or not. I also don't think they should have to alienate it by showing it later in the night or anything, people are just people, and we all use the same worthless crap :-)

chris_colmenero said...

I PERSONALLY FEEL THAT I WOULD BUY A PRODUCT REGARDLESS OF ADVERTISEMENT OR NOT. HOWEVER I CAN SEE HOW PEOPLE WOULD BE SCARED OF THE ASSOCIATION THAT MAY BE GIVEN BECAUSE OF ADVERTISEMENT.

Raquel said...
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Raquel said...

i can think of a few ads that feature famous or celebrity lesbians. Of course, there's the Covergirl and Mastercard ads that Ellen stars in, that we discussed in class. I've also seen Ellen's girlfriend, Portia de Rossi in different commercials for L'oreal hair color. Its interesting to see how advertising has evolved to specifically market to lesbians and no longer be afraid to reach out to such demographics, which was previously unheard of and taboo.

aarismendez said...

i personally don't really take into consideration who is selling the product when i actually go to the store. when i go buy things it's because i need them. i think that's why to answer the question about which lesbian actresses can i recall...i couldn't recall any in particular. it doesn't occur to me the person's background or sexual preference. the only thing i really see is the product.

A.J. Scherer said...

Advertisements that are aimed towards lesbians would not have an effect on whether or not I would buy the product. As long as the product is good I could really care less who the company uses to promote it. However, there are very few if any products that are geared towards lesbians that I would be interested in buying.

StephSellsCShells said...

Even if there was a product whose advertisement was directed only toward lesbians-I would see it as geared toward women instead of just homosexual women. As mentioned in class-the majority of women use the same types of products no matter what sexuality they subscribe to. To be honest I haven't seen many "traditional" lesbian couples (one butch one femme) since Pleasanton. The girls here are very pretty so I wouldn't mind using whatever it is that they ude...seems to be working.

Katelyn said...

the only way marketing strategies aimed at lesbianism would turn me away is if it was offensive (like kissing and such) other than that I usually base my purchase decsions on quality and price

jprice21 said...

Honestly many of the ads that were shown in class I have seen before and with the exception of the beer ad and the DG ad I never thought once about them being homosexual specific ads. Obviously this means that I feel as if they do a good job by making it subtle, but this kind of makes me a little uneasy. As if there is an inside joke I am not a part of. Almost as if I am being intentionally left in the dark, but I truly feel no offense to these ads. I think that it is probably a good thing that companies are recognizing the fact that they have a new, almost untouched, demographic.

BrittanyDe said...

Can anyone recall ever seeing an advertisement or commercial that featured a lesbian model or celebrity?

Yes, I have seen the Cover Girl ad with Ellen that was shown in class during the presentation. I believe this is a great ad because not only does it give lesbian women something to relate to but many other women truely enjoy her and her humor reguardless of sexuality. She offers something different to the company by being the opposite of the typical "cover girl" that looks like a flawless supermodel.

Maya said...

My interest in product is regardless who it is advertised to.

kmarcus62 said...

As i said in class I would have no problem buying a product if a gay man was the spokesperson, but if two gay guys were making out that would be a different subject. I probably would change the channel. But if the product is being targeted to the gay audience threw a specific person, and not action, i would see no problem supporting that product.

Tara said...

It seems that any commercial can be interpreted differently depending on the individual audience member's background and mindset. This allows for general commercials that can be interpreted for everyone to have the upper hand in such a diverse culture as we are. I do not think any vast number of people would boycott a product or place simply because they see a commercial targeting homosexuals flashed in front of them, however there are those that would raise much hype about it being flashed in front of them without giving the audience the chance to avoid this if they so wished. However, many times it is these people who also complain about the use of sex appeal flashed in front of them (i.e. Victoria Secret models) without the chance to cover their eyes. There are those in the world who approach the world differently and it should be possible to choose advertisements that wont offend these viewers as much as using advertisements that wont offend any other viewer.

Bethany Woodard said...

The fact that a product is trageted more towards a certain demographic or group f people shouldn't determine whether someone buys it or not. Women still buy products targeted towards men and vice versa. I can understand the association people make with the advertisement and a product, but when it comes down to it, it is the product you buy, not the advertisement.

jennifervaladez said...
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jennifervaladez said...
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jennifervaladez said...

i think that their is no real differnce between lesbians and heterosexual products. both straight women and lesbians buy the same thing most of the time. i know I don’t care if Ellen is a lesbian doing a cover girl commercial, if anything it makes me want to go buy the product even more because she role model for all women. she empahsis that everyone needs to embrace who they are whether they are straight or gay.

Claudia Flores said...

I think that several insecurities viewers may have with advertising directly to the lesbian community is that by focusing more on them, we are encouraging this type of behavior. It is an unfortunate reality but many would suggest that showing commercial with products specifically targets lesbians makes many uncomfortable especially in terms of when and how products are being advertised. Many refuse to accept this still even though we now have famous celebrities such as Ellen who is an open lesbian and promoting cover girl products not only within her community, but to a wider audience as well.

mfinley said...

Comment on question 2: It doesn't bother me at all to have a lesbian advertise a product that all woman use. For example, the Ellen DeGeneres covergirl commercial doesn't bother me at all, and i still purchase some covergirl makeup products. I like Ellen DeGeneres and her show and thought it was great that she did make the commercial but still stayed true to who she was and it looks like she is just having fun in the commerical. Plus we know she wears some kind of makeup when she does her show and she is still a woman, so makeup is apart of her life. Plus most lesbians are picker about what they wear and buy, so if i see a known lesbian using a certain product, I know that is probably a pretty good product to buy and use. So no, it doesn't bother me to have a lesbian advertise woman's products.

Grady said...

I agree that lesbians are not directly targeted in many advertisements, but I believe it is becoming more acceptable. The best example of this is Ellen Degeneres. People, especially women, cant seem to get enough of her. Her American Express commercials were very popular and lasted for quite a while.

Kristen said...

I dont think that it would bother me or stray me from buying something just because a it was targeted towards a lesbian i really dont have any biases about that. I wouldnt care if i had a product that most people related to lesbians I know that I know that I am not a lesbian.

Melinda said...

When i go out and purchase iteams it does not effect my decision on purchasing a product. That because of a product being sold is being advertised by a lesbian. Honestly i could care less what matters to me is the product. Im not going to go out and buy it because she is a lesbian and im not not going to buy because she is. But I have noticed how much America has progressed and been more accepting to different types of advertising.

elackey said...

If a product was centered for a certain demographic, it would have no effect on me if I were to buy the product or not. I buy if I want/need it. I think that our upcoming generation is a lot more open minded to be able to handle such ad's. SO I think that it wouldn't matter when the as airs.

KG said...

When it comes down to it, women products are women products. I'd still buy a product even its advertised to lesbians. I honestly couldn't see what they could sell directly to a lesbian that a straight woman wouldn't be interested in buying.

Travis said...

The ad would catch my attention more if it involved lesbians. Now I wouldnt have a bias either way but my attention would be captured. I think homosexual advertising is more hidden and coded than this article portrays and not many heterosexual people are affected by its ploys.