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Brandon's Big Gay Blog

TV Ads Are So Gay

by Brandon Burt
- Posted // 2011-08-15 -

When it comes to television advertisements, I have a love-hate thing going on.

Yes, there's a lot of creativity that goes into TV ad spots. Some of them are downright brilliant -- particularly the ones that ran a few decades ago in foreign markets. For instance, this ad for Olive soap is hilarious. In the 1970s, a Japanese agency could get away with producing a humorous spot that innocently depicted bare-ass children and a fart joke. It's just cute, dammit, and there's nothing prurient about it. Unfortunately, in today's cynical age, when we are all hyper-aware of child-predator perverts, such an ad would be impossible:



The ad market has always been regarded as puritanical. Consumer sensibilities are so delicate that advertisers traditionally take great pains to strip their campaigns of any image or word that might offend. For instance, that's why feminine-hygiene campaigns are so careful never to mention the word "menstruation" -- instead, they use some clinically blue liquid to demonstrate their product's absorbency. (Is it Windex? Curacao liqueur? Raspberry Sno-Cone flavoring? Who knows?)

I have no illusion that ad agencies are interested in social justice or anything except maximizing profits for their clients. But, in recent years, advertisers have taken to parodying their own industry's puritanism. And, even though it's ridiculous to celebrate every ad targeting the LGBT market (which, according to AdWeek, is a market worth $743 billion), it still feels like a breakthrough whenever I see gay couples in ads for insurance or floor wax or pudding.

So, even though it makes me a sellout, I recommend AdWeek's "50 Gayest Ads Ever," particularly ad No. 44 for Travelocity -- I love Karl, who is caring, compassionate, and has "a full range of films if you like to watch" -- but the guy at 0:09 ("I'm direct, I'm not into stop-overs, but I will do the red-eye") seems especially naughty ...

"Hot towel? Hot towel?"

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