Marketing Hate

Fighting Underage Drinking With a Dash of Gay Taunting


Claire’s, the mall store fill with cheap plastic accessories for tween and teen girls, was headed in the right direction with its anti-teen drinking project aimed at high school prom-goers. Through its Buzzfree Prom campaign created by cause marketer Liza Orchard, Claire’s joined a number of corporate voices hoping to keep underage kids from sippin’ on adult liquids. Except it fell into the oh-so-easy trap of marketing homophobia at the same time.

With the tagline “Go from prom king to queen in three shots or less,” Buzzfree Prom submits the hypothetical, “Tonight, his dance card is going to be full because he chose to drink underage. And instead of celebrating with his class on prom night, he’ll be toasting his new best friends. Play it safe and party smart. Please.”

It doesn’t take too much between-the-lines reading, notes La Figa, to understand the message: Underage drinking could land you in jail, where you’re real punishing is becoming the prison “queen.” Is ass rape scary? Yes. But is Buzzfree’s message itself harmful? Indeed.

The word “queen,” when used as a derogatory connotation, denotes femininity as a negative, and is a word far too many gay youth are branded with. It’s reminiscent of the very bullying that causes shit like this and this. But it’s too bad the spot’s creator, Ms. Orchard, didn’t initially see it that way. She insisted “the poster doesn’t foster a fear of being homosexual but a fear of going to jail” and “if you find it homophobic, that’s your opinion.”

Apparently she — or the execs at Claire’s’ owner Apollo Management — changed her mind, since the ad has been pulled.