Ad Respect

Amazon recruits LGBTQ workers, and 7 queer ad campaigns you might have missed this year

It’s been a whirlwind year, and we’ll understand if you haven’t noticed the increasing number of LGBTQ references popping up in TV commercials.

Just this month, a remarkable, first-of-its-kind Amazon recruitment ad appealed to potential workers with a current worker noting: “It’s a really trans-friendly company. My manager has been a really big advocate for me.”

This is a great message. By making a workplace safe for trans workers, it is making it safe for everyone. And it’s the second LGBTQ inclusive spot this year from the retailer.

Here are some other LGBT inclusive spots you may have missed recently:


Remember the IKEA commercial where two guys bought a dining table together and it caused bomb threats to stores in 1994? We’ve come a long way, baby.

This year, IKEA teamed with National Geographic in a mock nature show that captures a gay male couple first spooning but struggling for space in a small bed. As the two bump each others’ backs, a British narrator intones melodramatically, “Here, an epic struggle for dominance occurs nightly and sleep itself is on the brink of extinction. The mustachioed male defends his territory. The stubble-faced male is stunned.” Later, the two men shop at IKEA and bring home a bigger bed to jump into.

2. Levi’s-Google

In an unlikely Levi’s-Google mashup, a series of people wearing the Google-connected Levi’s denim jacket demonstrates how to get info while on the go, by tapping and swiping the sleeve. Two men arrive on a hilltop overlooking the city, share an embrace and dance together as they take in the view and listen to music.

3. Smirnoff & Pride

Smirnoff was on a roll this year. The vodka brand rolled out a series of LGBTQ ads for Pride, this one featuring “Orange Is the New Black” actress Laverne Cox. With Disney-like music and a candy-colored palette, Cox in a red leather cocktail dress, gloves and hat asks, “Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a place that accepted everyone?” A place that said, ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning…to vogue free! Well girl, that place is here!”

She continues: “This month Pride isn’t a party, it’s a home. And the doors are always open. NO borders here.” The camera pulls out to reveal a tiny house in front of the New York City skyline and several backup dancers. In the final pullout shot, Cox shouts, “We’re waiting for you with open arms! And vodka!”

A rainbow arches over Manhattan.

4. Smirnoff & Jonathan Van Ness

Also this year, Cheers’ Ted Danson walks through the lawn of a party and says to the camera, “Smirnoff knows you don’t need a lot to have a good time.” Walking up to the bar, he touches Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness’ back and orders two from the bartender. She serves up two martinis the size of a mouse. Offering the second to Jonathan, he replies, “Oh, I’m still nursing this one, bubby.” (A Yiddish term of endearment.) “Bubby?! My mom used to call me that!” says Danson with surprise. They laugh together.

5. Tiffany & Co.

In its How Do You #LoveYourWay campaign, Tiffany interviews various couples on their relationship. A remake of the Turtles’ song “Happy Together” plays while influencer couple Max and Andres talk about their favorite things about each other, then share a sweet kiss in an elevator.

6. Allstate

Tough guy Dennis Quaid stars as the spokesperson in this self-aware spot of fake commercials within a commercial. In one mock cologne ad, he’s sitting on a couch being lavished by both a woman and man, who caresses his cheek. Quaid grins at the camera, unaffected by either.

7. Snapchat

Snapchat created a charming series of videos focused on relationships, several with sassy gay men in them. This one features a young woman and her gay brother. “She was actually the first person to find out I wasn’t straight,” says Josh about his sister Rebecca. “We’re comfortable talking about boys.” She observes with a laugh, “Josh tends to like guys with kind of weird hairlines.”

8. CarMax

“If there’s gonna be a sticker on your car, it has to mean something,” the narrator says. “That you got into college, or crossed the finish line.That you went someplace worth going. Or maybe that you have opinions.” A bunch of mostly generic, unreal issues show up, but then a “Love is Love” sticker appears with a rainbow on the back of a convertible from Arkansas with two mature, queer women driving.

Advertising just keeps getting queerer, and we love it.

Michael Wilke has covered LGBT issues in advertising since 1992, is the founder of, and Senior US Consultant for LGBT marketing and diversity firm Out Now.