While many mainstream marketers still shy away from ads directed at gays and lesbians, a leading advocacy group found plenty of companies to honor this year, including Orbitz, Bertolli, Subaru and Allstate.
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, or GLAAD, monitors all forms of advertising, and bestows its annual awards to "recognize and honor individuals and projects in the advertising and marketing industries for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community and the issues that affect their lives," the New York-based group says.
Bertolli Oven Baked Meals was the big TV winner for ads running primarily in LGBT media outlets; Progressive Insurance won for print and outdoor, and Toyota Scion's "Create-Your-Own-Comic" campaign won for outstanding interactive.
"Golfers," an Orbitz spot that ran on national TV, received the award for outstanding television in mainstream markets. The ad has generated both kudos and criticism for its subtlety: It shows four men on a golf course (a place where plenty of straight men congregate, too), and one is wearing a polo shirt with a tiny emblem -- the Human Rights Campaign logo of a yellow equal sign in a blue square.
One critique of the ad, published back in June, quoted a Twitterer who wrote: "Orbitz ad has 1 of 4 golfers wearing HRC shirt. No other sign of gayness. Cynical marketing to lgbt w/o alienating others or inclusion?"
On queerty.com, another poster defended it: "What do you want them to do? Have a Pride Parade in the middle of the F-ing golf course? Quit bitching about EVERYTHING and take it as a special little nod to the gay community."
A spokesperson for GLAAD says that while the group is pleased with Orbitz's nod to its LBGT customers, "it's sad to note that this was the only TV ad nominated in this category this year. In past years, even last year, we've seen ads from companies like Levi Strauss and Ikea, which referenced gays yet ran on mainstream programming."
He says GLAAD hopes to meet with ad agencies in the coming months, "and advocate for increased inclusion."
Allstate's "Insurance Comes Out" campaign got top honors in the outstanding print/outdoor category for mainstream media. Those ads ran on bus shelters and in health clubs in Los Angeles and San Francisco, in honor of the company's LGBT consumers.
Subaru got the group's Corporate Responsibility Award for its "long-standing and public commitment to the LGBT consumer."
Furniture company Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams received a Public Visibility Award, "for their personal dedication to advocating for LGBT equality, as well as the inclusion of LGBT stories in ads."
The nearly-sold out event event was hosted by actor Alan Cumming, who also received an award from GLAAD. Ogilvy and Southwest Airlines sponsored the awards.