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Marketing

Published August 3rd 2012

Homosexuality, Brands and the Demographic Shut-Out

These days, more and more brands are making bolder attempts to define their ever-changing consumer audience. In one fell swoop a brand’s reputation can quickly go south if people don’t like the campaign.

Everyone can smell blood in the water when brands begin to scramble to save face.

This has been heightened even more so with the rapid expansion of social media, though some companies have been able to ride these tumultuous waves and milk every social penny. In the world of campaign marketing, is there truly a gain or loss when publicly excluding different demographics?

Many people would most likely say that there is a clear-cut answer as to whether it’s a gain or loss for companies.

However, the publicity that comes with having a “poor image” can actually very easily catapult your company to even larger financial success.

A great case in-point is Chick- Fil- A. The Georgia-based fast food chain has not been shy about its religious views that marriage should be exclusively between a man and woman.

When given the opportunity to clear the air surrounding these accusations, Founder Dan Cathy said, “guilty as charged.”  The ripple effect has been a global conversation, boycotts and relentless calls to action from the LGBT community.

The franchise currently does not show signs of backing down or sweeping their opinions and actions under the rug.

Mega-brand Target is all too familiar with the backlash they received in 2011 from LGBT and civil right activists after their controversial political donation to Republican, Tom Emmer, a same-sex marriage opponent.

Anti-Target boycotting and Facebook groups quickly formed. Lady Gaga even nixed an exclusive album deal with the retailer.

Fast forward a year later and Target has been selling Pride T-shirts, as well as engagement and wedding cards for same sex couples. Their biggest recent efforts to remedy the situation with their same sex registry ad have been met with wide praise.

While Target’s efforts certainly don’t erase their past, it certainly sweetens the deal for them in their efforts to attract the LGBT demographic.

This is especially so in the wedding arena, where an additional $16.8 billion could be added to the already massive $70 billion-valued ‘traditional’ wedding industry.

Target, as well as countless other companies like GAP, Urban Outfitters, and General Mills, have continued to show support for the LGBT community and laws supporting same sex marriage.

While their efforts have strengthened their relationship with that community, it has also caused outrage by conservatives.

It’s never possible to please everyone and while the United States continues to be divided by this issue, brands will continue to struggle over what demographics their marketing budgets should go towards.

In some cases, such as the Chick-Fil-A situation, actions that display disinterest in catering to a certain demographic could potentially still be a “gain”, if they are able to continue fueling those who love the brand to demonstrate their loyalty while driving others away. Adding global publicity for the food chain has only added more fuel to the fire.

Using a social media monitoring tool like Brandwatch could add a pinch of heat to companies searching for real time results, geo- location data, and author groups that could lead to putting out the fires when campaigns go awry. Or in this case when chicken goes awry.

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Crimson Hexagon has merged with Brandwatch. You’re in the right place!

From May 8th, all Crimson Hexagon products are now on the Brandwatch website. You’ll find them under ‘Products’ in the navigation. If you’re an existing customer and you want to know more, your account manager will be happy to help.