Over half of young British gay and bisexual men believe the LGBT+ community is ‘invisible’ in ads

Lush's 2015 'Gay is OK' soap promotion

The majority of British gay and bisexual men think that the LGBT+ community is “invisible” in advertising, and while they want greater representation from brands many find the term ‘pink pound’ to be deeply problematic.

According to a study from creative media agency UM London and dating app Grindr, which interviewed 2000 Grindr users across England aged 18 to 34, 52% of respondents said they didn’t believe LGBT+ individuals were portrayed in advertising.

While some brands like Vicks, Manchester United, Tiffany’s, Lush and Airbnb have made steps to make their ads more LGBT+ diverse, it’s clear there’s a feeling advertisers aren’t playing their part when it comes to promoting inclusion as well as products.

In addition, 54% of gay and bisexual young men said they might have come out sooner if brands had shown LGBT+ people like them in ads when they were growing up, while close to 70% said they believed brands had a role a part to play in challenging and progressing society’s views.

Amid calls for campaigns better reflective of the LGBT+ community, the study found that participants found the term ‘pink pound’ deeply offensive. The phrase was coined by the Guardian in 1984 to describe the community’s purchasing power, but has since been shown to be problematic with 42% of Grindr respondents noting it as inappropriate.

“UM’s research shows how important it is for brands to embrace LGBT+ content in their mainstream communications. And that must be done in an authentic way,” said Mark Runacus, president of the UK’s marketing and advertising network, PrideAM.

“Today’s savvy youth will see cynical tokenism as anything other than genuine inclusion,” he added, pointing to a recent Lloyds Bank Credos study which found that 65% of all adults from a variety of demographics would feel more favourably about a brand that reflected diversity in its advertising.

Runacus finished: “Diversity and inclusion done well gives a brand a unique opportunity to connect more meaningfully and powerfully with its audience.”

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