Saturday, October 27, 2007

Put Your Money Where Your Heart Is

In the ever striated competition between big business competitors, many larger firms are looking for the next "un-tapped"market to sink their teeth into. One of those markets is the over criticized and under estimated gay and lesbian market.

One morning, David Morganlander heard an ad aimed at gay man looking for a date and decided the time was right for national advertisers to target gays and lesbians on a larger scale than they ever had before. Six months later, Mr. Morganlander was president of marketing for Otopiaia Media, which helps companies and their advertising agencies reach gays and lesbians. His firm joins a growing roster of companies serving an increasingly large group of advertisers keen to reach gay audiences.

The reason for advertisers' interest is the annual buying power of the approximately 15 million-strong gay and lesbian population that adds up to $485 billion, according to marketing firm Witeck-Combs Communications.

In a suburb of Chicago, Ill., Oak Park real estate agent Donna Karpavicius decided to specialize in marketing to gays and lesbians. "I had virtually no competition," the Prudential agent recalls of her early career on the city's Northwest Side. "Unfortunately--for me, anyway--there's a lot more now."

Although other gay-related issues have made "breakthrough" headlines, the real estate business quietly has turned the once-taboo practice of marketing to gay consumers into a coveted specialty.

Certainly, real estate isn't alone in trying to latch onto the gay bandwagon as it rushes by with its mother load of marketing potential. Companies such as Ford Motor Co., United Airlines and Starbucks Corp are a few examples of businesses that have had same-sex-couple ad campaigns aimed at gays.Another firm, Cincinnati, OH based Procter & Gamble, is on the forefront of this new wave of marketing. P&G is a cautious advertiser. And as one of the country's largest, it has a lot of clout. So when it does something drastic with its advertising dollars, other companies pay attention. So its decision to pull its advertising on nationally syndicated radio talk show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger's TV show after protests over remarks that offended gays and lesbians was an eye opener on many fronts. It was not only a significant acknowledgement of the economic power and voice of the nation's gay community, but also of the decisions that television executives must now consider when delivering programs in a more competitive TV world.Because of P&G's alliance with gays and lesbians, many conservative groups have called for a boycott of the company's products. There were reports that two influential conservative Christian groups were calling for a boycott of two best-selling products of P&G to protest a statement on the company's internal web site that opposes a local statute to exempt gays and lesbians from special civil rights protection. The group's contention was that the company is implicitly supporting same-sex marriage.

My study of economics has taught me to be weary of the proceedings of large corporations such as P&G. Most big business has continuously hurt the American people by outsourcing jobs to foreign lands and have a history of exploiting foreign labor. But I do have to put me stamp of approval of the non-lethargic way that P&G has repeatedly stood its ground on issues concerning the gay and lesbian community.Buy P&G and buy big.

(Although they could cut the price a bit of their razors)

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