June 2020 (Vol. 60, Issue 2): GENDER AND DIVERSITY
LGBTQ Imagery in Advertising: How Viewers’ Political Ideology Shapes Their Emotional Response to Gender and Sexuality in Advertisements
“Gender is many things to many people. It is at once uniting and divisive,” this research team—an academic-practitioner collaboration—notes in their abstract. “Gender in advertising presents a range of opportunities for marketers but is linked inextricably to concepts of masculinity-femininity and sexuality and has the potential to create strong positive or negative responses from different audiences.”
Using an experimental methodology, the researchers in Australia, the U.K. and New Zealand—Gavin Northey (Griffith University, Gold Coast Campus), Rebecca Dolan (University of Adelaide), Jane Etheridge (Shopper Media Group Ltd.), Felix Septianto (University of Auckland) and Patrick van Esch (Aukland University of Technology)—took a detailed look at political ideology, gender and sexuality in ads and the impact of each on consumer attitudes. (Etheridge conducted the research while she was at Dentsu Aegis Network.)
Using a sample of 859 U.S.-based respondents and a follow-up replication study, the authors discovered that political “conservatives (versus liberals) experienced a high level of disgust when viewing advertisements containing male-to-male homosexual imagery.” This aversion, however, was not evident when the same cohort reacted to ads that contained female-to-female homosexuality. And, there was the same kind of equanimity for both conservative and liberal research participants when heterosexual couples were featured.
To avoid alienation, the authors suggest the following:
- Marketers should consider geopolitical segmentation to guide marketing and media strategy.
- Marketers therefore can utilize election data as a proxy for consumers’ political ideologies.
- By doing this, they can develop and run different creative content and messages on the basis of geopolitical segments.”