For the first time ever, gay-rights advocates will launch a sassy advertising campaign aimed at football fans in the most macho of American venues — the Super Bowl.
Four award-winning public service announcements feature various celebrities telling teens to “knock it off,” when they overhear them using the ubiquitous line, “That’s so gay.”
The videos will be strategically placed on a screen at the entrance of Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind., to be viewed by the 150,000 Super Bowl ticket holders on Feb. 5.
In its newest ad, GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, has garnered cooperation from the NBA and Phoenix Suns stars Grant Hill and Jared Dudley. The NBA is the first professional sports league to address antigay language among teens.
The campaign — Think Before You Speak – was created by ArnoldNYC and Toronto-based Grazie Media donated the airtime. The PSAs were funded by GLSEN, whose mission it is to ensure safe schools for all students.
Launched in 2009, the PSAs coincide with national concern about homophobia and school bullying and have received accolades from the Ad Council.
“The casual use of ‘That’s so gay’ is very common and rampant and often leads to more overt forms of harassment,” said GLSEN spokesperson Andy Marra. “This audience may not even see it as a problem.”
The first three videos have been distributed to local markets and have generated more than 387 million impressions and $25 million in donated ad time, according to GLSEN.
“It’s a new audience for us to reach,” said Marra. “The tone and feel is a good fit. The ads are not confrontational — but very disarming and spark a conversation. That is the intention.”
“Think Before You Speak” features humorous TV PSAs with celebrities interrupting teenagers who use the term “that’s so gay.”
In one video, celebrity Hilary Duff switches the tables on two girls picking out dresses in a store, scolding them for equating gay with “bad.” In another, Wanda Sykes chastises adolescent teens eating at a pizza restaurant.
Last year, GLSEN unveiled its Sports Project, “Changing the Game,” which specifically addressed name-calling and bullying in physical education and sports settings.
“LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender) athletes are in school and we want them to feel safe and come out and be open and honest about who they are. Its’ a challenge because of the climate in many PE settings,” said Marra.
According to GLSEN’s 2009 National School Climate survey, three-quarters of LGBT students hear slurs such as “faggot” or “dyke” frequently or often at school and 9 in 10 report hearing anti-LGBT language frequently or often. Homophobic remarks such as “that’s so gay” are the most commonly heard type of biased remarks at school.
Research shows that these slurs are often unintentional and simply a part of the teens’ vernacular. Most do not recognize the consequences, according to GLSEN.
Ad Council research found that the campaign has shown a shift in attitudes and behaviors among teens and their language.