24th February 2017

Teviot 10: LGBT & the brands who are making history

by Kate Walker, Social Media Content Executive

Image: Pekic / Getty Images

In case you’ve been hiding under a rock somewhere, the marketing & advertising industry has come a long way with regards to LGBT advertising.

Over the years more and more brands have been waking up to the idea that not every family consists of a male and female couple and therefore have been using more and more same sex couples and LGBT people in their ads.

So here is just a small selection of some of the first, and most heart warming ads by brands over the years…

1. Ikea’s ‘Groundbreaking’ Gay Couple Commercial – 1994

Ikea made history back in 1994 by becoming the first company to put a gay couple in a national TV ad. Unfortunately at the time Ikea received a lot of hate for the ad (there was even a bomb threat in an Ikea in Hicksville, NY) – and so it was pulled from the air. The ad was part of a wider campaign that focused on non-traditional families, and used a mixed-race couple and a single mum with an adopted child in the campaign.


2. Clean and Clear – ‘Jazz Jennings #seetherealme’ – 2015

In 2015 transgender teen Jazz Jennings landed a pretty huge deal with Johnson and Johnson’s Clean & Clear skin care. Jazz became part of Clean and Clear’s #seetherealme campaign which encouraged teens to share their own stories via social media. In the ad Jazz shares her story about growing up as a transgender teen and fitting in with society/making new friends.


3. Unilever Impulse Perfume – ‘Men Can’t Help Acting on Impulse’ – 1998

This Impulse ad is considered to be one of the first ads on British TV to feature a gay couple. The ad’s tagline ‘Men can’t help acting on impulse’ implies that Impulse’s body spray is so good it would turn a gay guy straight. It was a relatively simple ad that at the time got good airtime and few complaints.


4. Pepsi UK Tv Ad – 2008

This Pepsi ad poked fun at the assumption of heterosexuality and shows a young man in a bar turning down several women to chat up the gay guy at the end of the bar. The ad received backlash from the US conservative group ‘the American Family Association’, who boycotted Pepsi over their promotion of ‘the homosexual agenda’. In retaliation Pepsi said it would ‘continue major financial support of homosexual organisations seeking to legalise homosexual marriage’ – go Pepsi!


5. Levi’s 501 Jeans Commercial – 2007

Levi’s actually created two alternate endings for their 501 jeans in 2007 – a straight and gay ending. Levi’s Marketing VP Robert Cameron said “Doing the same commercial with different endings seemed to us to be a message about absolute equality” (Ad Age, 2007).


6. Wells Fargo, ‘Learning Sign Language’ – 2015

This heart warming ad by Wells Fargo shows two women learning sign language before they meet their soon-to-be adopted daughter – really leaves you with a warm and fuzzy feeling at the end of it! Before the same-sex marriage bill in the US, Wells Fargo were one of many companies that joined together to call for the ban to be struck down.


7. Kodak, ‘Understanding’ – 2016

Kodak really knows how to tug on the heartstrings with this lovely father and son ad. The short film perfectly captures the terror of coming out to your family and the power of love.


8. Airbnb, ‘Love Is Welcome Here #HostWithPride’ – 2015

Airbnb have always been a brand that has made it clear that they have a zero tolerance policy for discrimination.   This moving video shows lesbian, gay and transgender couples discussing their travel experiences. As a brand they hope to “create a world where all love is not only accepted, but welcomed, everywhere we go.”


9. Renault Twingo – 2012

This Renault 2012 ad is very reminiscent of the 1997 Johnnie Walker ad that features the lead up to a wedding – but there’s a twist at the end…


10. Elgiganten, ‘Let the Gifts Talk’ – 2016

This ad by Danish electronic store Elgiganten beautifully shows a father’s acceptance of his transgender daughter’s transition by gifting her with hair straighteners. Elgiganten wanted their ad to make people think about the acceptance of LGBT people and how something as simple as a gift can convey a big, important and beautiful message.


Ok we couldn’t resist and we’ve thrown two more in because we just couldn’t decide on 10 of the best – but as a pre warning, make sure you have your tissues out as these last two are real tearjerkers…


11. Absolut, ‘#loveislove’ – 2015

The Swedish vodka brand Absolut have been no strangers to showing their support for LGBT over the years but this ad is really something special. Absolut shot a real wedding proposal story between Paige and Amanda on a beach where they first met and the result is so beautiful.


12. Ad Council ‘Love has no lablels’ – 2017

Okay Okay Okay….We’re now on 12. But this one, which we recently shared on Facebook is worth its weight in gold! In an age where there is still a stigma between sports and the LGBT community this ad just steps up the ‘game’ and gives rights to all minority groups.

…Lets hope the brands and marketers behind these campaigns are in the process of creating a new, and better history, for the LGBT community.

Kate Walker, Social Media Content Executive

Teviot 10: LGBT & the brands who are making history