Branding gay pride

Has advertising lost its edge? 2012 was the year many brands jumped aboard the marriage-equality bandwagon. Coincidentally, the same year that public support for gay-rights hit the 50% tipping point. 

With states like New York legalising gay marriage, one could argue that gay-rights got ‘trendy’. In an effort to stay on top of the curve, many brands announced their support for gay marriage. (And Chick-fil-a got trounced for its anti-gay-marriage stance)

While I have no argument against brands supporting gay-rights, these ads are by no means edgy. They are simply a branding effort to resonate with a (now) major proportion of their consumer base.


Chevrolet: ‘Whatever revs your engine, we support you 100%”


Oreo kicked of its ‘daily twist’ social media campaign with a cookie supporting gay pride


Let me finish my rant and get to my point: Can brands be edgy (and original) any more?

Back in 1995, Diesel released a print ad showing two male soldiers kissing. Keep in mind that when this was publicised the highest approval rating for gay marriage was in New York, at a paltry 35%. Edgy advertising. Even the content is confronting, sailors kissing rather than businessmen holding hands or overly sterile uses of a rainbow.


And I can’t talk about edgy advertising without bringing up Benetton’s long running ‘United colours of Benetton’ campaign. Particularly this ad showing a black woman and a white woman with an asian baby. There’s no copy, so what are Benetton saying about this situation? To me, that’s part of the campaign’s success, it left the interpretation up to the viewer. Edgy.


 So the question is, are brands as edgy anymore? My answer is no, at least not from what I’ve seen. The reasoning behind this confuses me, but perhaps there’s nothing new to be edgy about. Gay rights, women’s rights, religion and violence have all been explored, what else can be done? I suppose there’s incest, but I don’t see McDonalds or Coke tackling that one anytime soon.

I guess we can always have arguments over a woman saying ‘period’ and ‘vagina’.