technology

Dad -- And Dad -- Like Their New GE Profile Oven

LGBTQ Pride month and Father’s Day will collide in a few days, and many advertisers are taking the opportunity to address both. Count GE Appliances among them.

GEA, now a unit of Chinese consumer giant Haier, has debuted a 15-second spot for its new GE Profile precision cooking wall ovens, featuring two dads.

One of them sets the oven, and as he does, he sees his teenage daughter at the counter having a Facetime conversation with a guy.

He hustles over excitedly, asking, “Is that THE Jake?” His partner then comes into view, asking, “Jake? I thought his name was Brian.”

That bonding moment, the ad suggests, is possible because the oven, with its new air-fry technology,  automatically adjusts the temperature so the dads can just pay attention to their daughter (and Jake/Brian).

The ad is now playing on The Food Network and The Cooking Channel, Hulu, HGTV and DIY,  on GEA’s websites and in its promoted social media posts.

It is, in fact, not a very remarkable ad -- though just a little while ago,  it might have been. Now, what was once a dangerous depiction for a brand is mostly dangerous if consumers think the brand is jumping on a bandwagon.

Same-sex couples  have recently been featured in ads for Gap, Tiffany & Co., Ralph Lauren and even Cottonelle, whose ad claims it's the product that “makes you feel like the kind of guy he’d take home to mother.”

The scant publicity for the GE Profiles ad, titled “Less Oven-Hover, More Dad-Hover,” makes no reference to the same-sex aspect of the spot, and the ad itself contains no wordplay that calls attention to the two dads. A GEA spokeswoman says the brand has produced other same-sex online and digital advertising, but couldn’t cite any.

But this is the first ad that will get exposure on TV, the medium where a younger Ronald Reagan hosted “The General Electric Theater” from 1954-62 and became widely identified as a spokesman for the company. Later, President Reagan earned the enmity of the gay community for his administration’s weak response to the emerging AIDS crisis.

GE sold its appliance division to Haier in 2016.

Reaching LGBTQ viewers is good business. Research conducted in 2009 concluded that gay households plannned to spend 50% more on home improvement projects in the next year than straight households.

To the extent people want some proof that a brand launching a same-sex ad isn’t just paying lip service, GEA would seem to have some Christopher Street-cred.

This year it grabbed  a 100% on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI). That's a benchmark that lets outsiders learn how inclusive a company is in policy and practice toward LGBTQ employees, and is sometimes used by people to decide where to work or what businesses to support. This year, 560 U.S. businesses received the highest marks.

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