Every now and then I post and the comments are so good I just want to put them up and continue the dialog. My entry yesterday how large corporations, specifically Absolut, try to get free advertising on weblogs by going viral and turning their ads into earned media was one of those.
I'm generally interested in the ways people relate to advertising. It's part of this business - it's the only thing that'll pay for the bandwidth around here. It's hard to get and it's easy to piss them off (and I seem the most prone to that among Bilerico contributors). Their goals are different from mine here - to promote something instead of getting people to think about events and people and ideas. Yet they're part of this language as much as I am.
Here are a few comments on that post, here and elsewhere.
Some people were insulted by the way alcohol advertising has taken over LGBT events and media, like contributing editor Serena Freewomyn:
Umm, while we're on the topic, can we please discuss how fucking insulted I am each year I go to Pride and it's sponsored by Coors and Bacardi? Like we need to keep on perpetuating the stereotype that we're all alcoholics.
Indeed. We hear often enough about the metrics of the free market, that they're doing what's profitable and, hey, can you really blame them? I mean, if we are all really alcoholics, then you can't fault them for that stereotype!
Of course, reality isn't some stable subject language describes, it interacts with language because the latter sets up what's possible, our understanding of the world, the way we interact with it, etc. And advertising is just another medium for language.
But alcohol does have a special relationship, if that's a way to put it, with queer people, as commenter pico pointed out:
The press release was a cheap stunt, though: you should write them back and tell them that advertising costs, yo. To Absolut's credit they were one of the first in their field to advertise actively in LGBT media (since 1981, if you can believe that!), so I'm willing to cut them a bit of slack on this.
The last time I went to Pride there were alcohol ads all over. I'm sure that it wouldn't have happened without them. They were selling alcohol the entire time, and the drag queen emceeing kept on pushing it.
But I just left because it was stupid and degrading. But they're one of the most consistent advertisers in LGBT media, most likely because they don't care much about having a seedy reputation. Does that mean we forgive?
Speaking of stereotypes, another reader, catleigh, says:
That press release is about the most offensive thing I've read in a long time. They seriously think they're making a connection with anyone by focusing an ad on gay men's supposed "fascination with perfect, eight-inch 'member' measurements"? Maybe I'm missing something b/c I'm not a gay man, but this strikes me as being like trying to 'connect' with the Irish by cracking jokes about what a bunch of drunk fools they all are.
While I wondered about how it was meant to create "real connections" with the lesbian half of the "gay and lesbian community," as the press release said it'd do, it also leaves most gay men out. I know that it's an old joke that there are two types of gay men, size queens and liars, but that's contrary to most of my sexual experiences with men. I've found that while size is something people lie about all the time, something they say is important, it's not something men care about in such a dehumanizing way when we actually talk about it.
And why 8 inches anyway? What about 9? Sheesh.
Does advertising on gay media help get gay consumers? Do we LGBT bloggers have sway here? arogue7 weighs in:
As a gay consumer, I pay more attention to who is advertising on Pam's house blend, Ameriblog and the advocate, who is sponsoring Aids runs/bikes, who is donating to Amfar, who is highly rated as an employee by HRC, etc. And I pay attention to boycotts of advertisers supporting hate speech such as Michelle Malkin.
Commenter Nick wrote a mini open letter to the PR reps:
Send your shit to me, and I will use it and then promote it in the comments. This is the future of guerrilla marketing. M'kay?
It just might be.
But do people pay more attention to ads in LGBT media, or is it just another place where people are looking, and buying ad space here is just another market with more eyes watching?
It's easy to forget that in this situation, and like many of the press releases for ads and press releases I get, these people are doing absolutely nothing for us. We're choosing to promote them in a way, unless we simply tear them apart for an ad or lead a boycott. Otherwise, we're getting them more views that they may or may not deserve.
In that context, why would advertising on queer media be special?
That press release was also supposed to create "real connections." It made up the word "gay-washing," which bothered me because it showed how out of touch they were with the community if they thought that was a real subject.
Commenter voila said:
gay-washing sounds like a new way to generate revenue for school clubs, maybe...?
teens at the curb, waving signs that say, "gay wash..."
Absolutely. New expressions are created by writers all the time, but it doesn't happen in press releases. Or it shouldn't. (I'm imagining a world where press releases themselves were works of great prose that students have to read in junior high, but....)
I can think of all sorts of fun things "gay-washing" can mean, and not just what voila said.
The most succinct comment I read, though, was from drbloodaxe:
Wow. That was the most idiotic Absolut ad I've ever seen.