J Crew at Center of Gay Economics With Openly Gay Model


J. Crew Imagery Reflects a Diverse World

Gays were early adopters of the Internet and social networking, first using chat rooms to connect with others. Now, they have a disproportionately high presence on Facebook.

In the past, advertising has used a "stock gay photography," according to Witeck. "There's a joke about gay ad imagery -- they think the same couple banks at every bank."

J. crew designer and model Somsack Sikhounmuong is Asian and his boyfriend Micah is white.

"This is new -- you're not seeing this all over the place," Witeck said. "More multiracial images push back the monochromatic [image] of the white gay man."

Some companies have had a long tradition of targeting the LGBT market, most notably American Airlines, which offers equal benefits for same-sex partners and has strong diversity policies.

The company was among early sponsors of the GLAAD Media Awards. The airlines boldly ran a 2010 billboard ad in New York City's predominantly gay neighborhood: "Here's to his and his beach towels."

Two others -- Subaru and Kimpton Hotels -- have been supportive. And the LGBT community, it turn, shows strong brand loyalty, he said.

"We are incredibly loyal and informed," said PR guru Renna. "I don't fly on any airlines except American and Jet Blue. "They have good policies. I tend to support these products even if they cost more."

But advertising to this niche market can be tricky. "It's important not to pander and to get it right," said Witeck.

As for J. Crew, he said, "I do think they got it right."

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