Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A better example of change

Yesterday, I saw on the US news that for the first time ever, Tiffany featured a gay male couple in an ad, and this was said to be a sign of changing times. A far better example of change, and more useful to help that change, is an ad for Lynx Hair, “Less effort, more style” (above). This ad is an example of the future.

The Tiffany print ad (at the bottom of this post) is important in the sense that it includes a gay couple (a real couple, by the way). Around 70% of Americans now live in states with marriage equality, so why not feature an ad catering to folks who can now marry?

Tiffany is a “luxury brand” (meaning, expensive) and it’s likely that this ad will appear in publications that cater for consumers of high-end products. Put another way, the ad, good thing though it is, will be seen by a subset of all consumers, and quite possibly people who already support marriage equality.

The Lynx Hair ad, on the other hand, is aimed at mass consumers, though skewed to young men, obviously. And, yes, young men are for more likely to support marriage equality, and in far higher percentages, than older men. The mass market presence of the ad, however, will reach people who are not in the target market, and probably even those who may not be quite there yet in acceptance of the equality of LGBT people.

The reason, of course, is in a montage that suggests what a man using their product might experience: “Now can be amazing,” they us, then at 0:29 they say, “Kiss the hottest girl – or the hottest boy.” The images of the kisses, shown cinema noir-style, are clear and obvious—and it’s what makes it more important than the Tiffany ad.

We first saw the ad during the 6pm news last night, and neither of us saw that moment coming. The ad was repeated during a popular programme around an hour later. That means that a lot of people may have seen the ad, and the matter-of-fact treatment of a male/male kiss. “It’s no big deal,” the ad is clearly saying. Because it’s not.

The video above is the “extended edition”, which is longer than the version we saw on TV last night. But the added bits are in keeping with the shorter version. The use of humour to convey the ad message helps reinforce the “no big deal” aspect of the kiss, I think, precisely because in context it’s clearly NOT a big deal. It also disarms people and makes them pay more attention.

The long battle for the equality of LGBT people will finally end when heterosexuals no longer think of us odd, weird or, worse, disgusting. When they see us as just another part of life, we’ll all be able to move on. The Tiffany ad is a part of that process, but ads like the one for Lynx Hair do more, I think, to reach average people, and to make being gay just seem like another thing. That’s why I think it matters more.

But I do like both.

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