As the employees of a company that survives on companies willing to spend money on gay media, we can understand the frustration with certain marketers who turn their backs on LGBTs for no apparent reason. Especially those who once were writing checks to our kind, and then suddenly stopped, thinking they could get gay love without spending on an ad campaign. Like Dolce & Gabbana.
The Italian designers were once big spenders in gay media, and their homoerotic ad campaigns found a place among us when other magazines turned their backs. But as Out‘s Aaron Hicklin complains, D&G is no longer a paying client: “I would say Diesel owes a lot of its early success to gay men, as does Prada Sport. Also American Apparel T-shirts, Volkswagen, and the entire Bravo network. And, at the risk of making us sound utterly status-obsessed, you can add just about any premium vodka brand. Then there’s the odd case of Dolce & Gabbana, a brand that has a big gay fan base but no longer reciprocates by advertising in gay media. I don’t know if it’s because they take the gay market for granted, but given the homoerotic imagery of their campaigns, and often positive gay messaging, it seems like a big missed opportunity.”
Indeed. But from their perspective, why pay for something you can get for free? Sure, they won’t get two-page glossy spreads in Out without paying for it, and fashion stylists might choose another label’s belt or slacks for a photo shoot (knowing D&G isn’t supporting their publication), but it’s not like D&G is suffering gay love.
The gays still fawn over their bags, jeans, shirts, and suits. They don’t spend with Queerty, and yet we give Stefano and Domenico plenty of free press. We give their models free press. Hell, we even give their advertising free press.
We rationalize like so: These are two mainstream gay designers — fashion celebrities — and thus they deserve our coverage. Would we appreciate it if they helped fund our paychecks? Yes.
Two years ago, D&G was marketing its watch line with homoerotic storylines (in addition to straight ones). Its print ads are still filled with plenty of nude male models and sexuality criss-crossing. But now those ads appear in more tolerant, high-brown fashion books, rather than more accessible, gay-targeted rags.
But their support of gay media? Diminishing. Adds Hicklin: “Italians do seem to have a deeply conflicted relationship to homosexuality that goes back to classical Rome. We actually sent a writer, Michael Joseph Gross, to Italy some years back to write that very piece. But, still, Domenico and Stefano used to advertise in Out, and even appeared on the cover some years ago, so their retreat from gay media is disappointing.”
We’ve previously discussed whether an advertiser’s support of the gay community — through advertising, or even pride parade sponsorship — makes a difference in your support of their brands. But what about a company like D&G that used to fund the very type of gay media you’re reading right now, but has since opted to abandon it. Is that a brand still worth supporting?