Sexual Orientation in Contemporary Advertising

Published 15 Mar 2017

Most people in the society rely on advertisements to get information about the products that are being sold in the market. Through advertisements, the society is able to develop ideas about the nature of a certain product, its usage, and its durability. In other words, advertising sells the product even before it reaches the retail stores. In order to make sales, the marketers create special concepts and use different approaches to make a strong recall on the minds of the target market. These creative concepts are needed to make the public aware of the uniqueness of that certain product among its competitors. Apparently, mass media has been very influential not only in selling any product to the viewers; its effective approach to the public has been proven in making the people bite all the information and messages that are being conveyed by either the marketer or the advertiser.

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The concepts that are being associated with the product are adapted by the society making them as part of the media’s constructed reality. While some advertisements show reality, the others tend to sensationalize the ideas and exaggerate the information to make the public easily recall the products that are being endorsed. The constructed reality in media has been viewed as the reality in the society. In other words, the public easily conform to the ideas that advertising present to the audience. From television to billboards, advertising plays an important part in the gaining success of the marketers and fulfilling the needs of the customers. However, the advertisements tend to sell not only the product in the store shelves but also the concepts that are used to promote the products to the market. In this manner, the society often feels the conflicts of knowing the reality and seeing the new society that is being constructed by these advertisements. Sexual orientation is needed in the society where everyone conforms to the images and information that are being given either by the people around them or the media itself. Apparently, the stereotypes that sexual orientation gets from media information depict not only the reality but oftentimes the exact opposite of it. The worst problems that society often encounters are the acceptance of the people themselves and the effortless transmission of media of any message to the public.

The Society and the Contemporary Advertising

A product will never be salable in the market if the marketers will not create a concept that would leave a mark to the market. In order to make the product enter on its growth stage, strategic techniques are needed to assure its marketability.

The value of the economic role of advertising has been questioned because the dominance of this role can lead to a society where the purpose of advertising is to promote consumption as a way of life. Of course, we all have to purchase certain goods and services to live our lives. However, other goods fall more into “want” category than the “need” category. Advertisements for the “want” categories of goods have questioned since they make people yearn for things they do not need to live their lives (Sheehan, 19).

This is the reason why the marketers develop concepts that would easily be remembered by the customers once they enter in the retail store or supermarket. Without the persuasive appeal and creative concepts, the company may need to let the product go to its decline stage. Oftentimes, the advertisers also use its influential demand to make the public buy the product despite its level of necessity. This plain consumerism and influential demand are parts of the contemporary advertising. The product, in order to create a remarkable entrance to the market, should have a unique appearance and strong demand from the customers. Due to the extreme competition in the market, the advertisers use concepts that may be a taboo in the society or too sensationalize to make a strong impact to the target market.

Homosexuality on Advertisements

A brand of pain relieving drug shows an image of two bare-chested men lying on the bed. Only the lower part of the bodies are shown covered with white blanket and the words written on the white portion of the poster ad were a simple conversation but imply a subliminal message. Although the poster ad may be perceived as clear with direct ideas of homosexuality, the subliminal messages on the advertisements are evident (Current, n.d.)This is just one of many advertisements portraying homosexuality that have already been released in the society. Some advertisements directly imply the sexual identity of the endorsers and some even directly portray the messages that the advertisers would like to be associated with the product. Homosexuality has become part of the efforts of the advertisers in reaching the consumer market thus the mainstream slowly become oriented of the existence of the third sex in the society.

From food to wine products, the homosexuals have been used to endorse the selected items to the public. Surprisingly, the society buys the product regardless of its concepts of promotion in the market. Before, the images were used only for print advertisements; however, these images have also reached the televisions targeting the gay and lesbians consumers of either new or mature products in the marketplace. The celebrities that have been known to be homosexuals and same sex couples are used to advertise the products to the mainstream (Elliot, 1997). The masculine image of women and the effeminate figure of men have made people change their perceptions toward homosexuals. Through these advertisements, the mainstream has conformed to the messages that are being portrayed by the mass media. Even though most advertisements, especially on television, do not directly promote homosexuality, the persuasive appeals of every ad containing these kinds of subliminal messages have brought the society to a higher level of awareness about the gender issue.

The idea that gays and lesbians are part of consumer markets; advertisers have not failed to disregard these clusters in promoting the products that are being sold to the public. In fact, some manufacturers even developed products intentionally for them. Some endorsers even go beyond cross dressing making the society lead to astonishment to acceptance. Although there have been many criticisms regarding homosexual advertisements, the marketers still view these clusters as potential consumers of the product; thus, the companies selling a particular good or service to the market still made promotion using homosexuals and subliminal messages despite the controversies in the society (William, et al. 2004).

Impact of Media’s Depiction of Sexual Orientation

Apparently, the acceptance of the society in homosexuality can be considered as one of the main impacts of depiction of media. In an interview for the American Communication Journal, the gays and lesbians have freely expressed their opinions about the effects of media depiction of homosexuality to them.

They all agreed that today’s portrayals are much better than the images of the past, but they are far from perfect. The adults had the same mixed feelings as the teens had about Queer as Folk and Will and Grace. They said they specifically could not relate to the negative stereotypical behavior seen in Queer as Folk, including having a lot of sex, clubbing all the time and doing drugs. However, in terms of gay and lesbian visibility, they felt that 21st century television has more images of gays and lesbians to choose from than what they had as teenagers in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Yet they are still not positive representations (Evans, 2007).

The images of gays and lesbians have become increasingly accepted in today’s society. It has gone to many stages before the mainstream have finally accepted the idea of homosexuality that have been long considered as taboo in the society. Now, the media sources including television, newspapers, magazines, and even billboard advertisements are full of gays and lesbians images.

Even though the homosexuals are not represented based on reality, media portrayal has undeniably played a very important role in making these clusters accepted in this modern society. Gays and lesbians are still being treated as different individuals but the images that the public have been seeing on advertisements and television programs have somehow changed the attitude of the people toward them. The growing number of homosexuals manifests the recognition of the mainstream to the group of people who had been hiding in the dark to avoid judgment and criticisms. Now, the prominent persons that have been successful in different fields are undeniably part of gay or lesbian society. They are known for their creativity and skills in managing business, leading a fashion trend, and having the successful lives that the public had never imagined possible due to endless prejudices against them.

Today, the world has been aware of the changes that the societal factors bring to every individual which often make up the society. Aside from technology, other elements that have been present in the society finally gone to a lot of transformation in order to conform to these inevitable changes. The taboo in the society became accepted and the seemingly endless criticisms have finally rested. Apparently, media portrayal of homosexuality has a lot of negative effects to the next generation but the impact that it gave to the society now brought peace and clarity to the stereotypes that have thrown against the homosexuals. Advertising may be effective in selling products to the customers; however it is always the best tool of changing the perceptions of the public toward a certain thing. Through advertising, homosexuality has become accepted but the effects of this acceptance may bring another conflict in this post modern world.


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