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The Pink Pound - media comment, press cuttings and articles.
 gaytoz / MEDIA COMMENT pre 1996
Police turn to gay medla for recruits
United Airlines baulks at gay benefits
Jane Howard takes Pride
Virgin 'charges double' for gay men's life insurance
Cashing in, coming out
Manchester Shopping Mall
Allied-Domecq's Pink Drink
Branson serenades gay market
Channel Four's OUT Survey
Mirror readers' survey
CD launched by Warner
Manchester Gay Shopping Centre
Drawn in through the 'gay window'
Hunchback of Notre Dame 'has gay overtones'
Lottery cash for minority groups angers Major
Wall Street chases 'camp coin'
Homosexuality is boring
Australian Gay Bank
Hot Spots
Gay Guinness
TV advert 'gay kiss'
Kings Cross Urban Diversion

More Media Comment from 1997 to 2001

Police turn to gay medla for recruits

Police forces are increasingly advertising in the gay and lesbian media to attract a wider variety of recruits, it was revealed yesterday.

Paul Fairweather, from the National Advisory Group Policing Lesbian and Gay Communities, said so far the poiicy was limited to areas where there were well-known gay communities, such as Sussex and Manchester. "In the long term we hope it will become a matter of normal practice."

Mr Fairweather, who was speaking during the group's annual conference in Brighton, said there was a real need for the police to recruit more openly gay and lesbian officers. "That will change the canteen culture of our forces."

The organisation backed a speech by Home Office Minister Alun Michael, the first government minister to attend such a conference, who acknowledged the need to build bridges with the gay community. "I recognise that lack of trust in the police has resulted in serious underreporting of homophobic attacks and a feeling that people's lifestyles - rather than the crimes are under investigation, he said.

However, there were some good examples of police practice around the country where there has been good "dialogue" between the police and gay communities, he said.

"The Government is also playing its part. Legislation is now in place to ensure peopje do not have to suffer a campaign of harassment, and it can be used for the protection of lesbians and gay men.

The Independent 28 November 1997

United Airlines baulks at gay benefits

United Airlines and the Catholic Church are fighting a City Ordnance in San Francisco requiring businesses, organisations and charities with contracts with the City to offer benefits to unmarried partners of employees. United are threatening to move some facilities, and 7000 jobs, from San Francisco airport to Oakland. Many ocal companies - including Apple and Levi Straus - already have such policies.

The Independent, 7 February 1997

Jane Howard takes Pride

Gay Pride 97, the world's largest free music festival, is to get PR backing from Jane Howard PR. The Clapham-based agency has been re-appointed for a second year to handle a 50,000 seven month publicity campaign for the July event.

This year's publicity campaign is called "P.R.I.D.E -- What does it stand for?" and is designed to look at the wider aspects of the event. Jane Howard is planning to launch a survey studying the impact of Pride on London's economy.

PR Week, 14 February 1997

Virgin 'charges double' for gay men's life insurance

The Observer reports that Richard Branson's Virgin Direct financial services company is penalising healthy gay men by charging almost double the rates of its competitors.

Following research by independent and gay-owned firm Ivan Massow Associates, the premium quoted by Virgin for a heterosexual for £133,000 life cover over 25 years was 17.39 pounds a month. With the same personal details a gay man was quoted 84.86 pounds.

Virgins managing director said "If there is a higher chance of someone dying because they are in a relationship with another man we will charge them accordingly." This week Ivan Massow's company starts aa poster advertising campaign with the slogan "Independent financial advice from the company who's no virgin".

The Observer, 22 September 1996

Virgin Megastores is sponsoring the 1996 Equality Show, the annual fundraising event for the gay and lesbian campaigning group Stonewall held at the Royal Albert Hall. The sponsorship will include event branding, POS and competitions. Smirnoff are sponsoring the after-show party at Heaven.

Marketing, 24 October 1996

Cashing in, coming out

The Guardian features an article by gay rights activist Peter Tatchell who feels that 'Commercialism calls the shots, not civil rights. The gay community is being hijacked by the gay market. Consumption has become more important than citizenship......This isn't freedom. It is a new form of enslavement compounding legal discrimination with economic exploitation.' Tatchell reports that 25 years after the first gay rights march, our basic civil rights goal has still not been achieved, and yet the mood in the gay community is complacency and apathy. ' is impossible to build any sort of sustainable coalition around consumerism. This is likely to lead to the fragmentation and demise of the gay community. That would leave us more or less defenceless.' Outrage! web site

(The Guardian, 29 August 1996)

Manchester Shopping Mall

The Pink Paper reports that plans for a gay shopping mall in Manchester's gay district have been delayed but hope to be completed in October. The freehold of the Phoenix Centre is owned by Adam Geoffrey & Co, and the units are being let by gay businessman Terry King for between £3,500 and £14,000 a year. Development costs have risen from £250,000 to £800,000. The basement will house a gay nightclub, and there will be cafes andf a wide range of shops which will stay open till 10pm.

(The Pink Paper, 13 September 1996)

Allied-Domecq's Pink Drink

The Independent reports that Allied-Domecq has launched a sweet, mid-strengtrh mixable spirit called Tuaca aimed at the gay market in the United States. Allied recently tested a wholesale distribution network for gay pubs, clubs and bars across the UK, emphasising particular brands ­p; such as Beefeater Gin, Canada Club and Kahlua; which it has identified as being more popular among lesbian and gay drinkers. Even so, it is hedging its bets in the US, where Tuaca has been positioned as a 'crossover' product: advertising features images of both gay and straight couples. They have not yet decided whether to to launch Tuaca in the UK.

(The Independent 21 August 1996)

Branson serenades gay market

The Independent reports that the Virgin Group has begun selling records by direct mail, targeting groups such as gays, thirtysomethings and young married mums with a series of 'lifestyle' catalogues. Compass is aimed at the over 35s, while Crash Bang Wallop is a bi-monthly selling music, videos and clothing to young gay men, and described as a Loaded magzine for Gays including Absolutely Fabulous T-Shirts with the legend Fash Mag Slag. "We tried mail order in the mid 80s but it flopped," said a Virgin spokesman. "About a year ago we decided to look at an alternative approach targeting different lifestyles. If there's a market there we can create a catalogue for it."

(The Independent 19 August 1996)

The Pink Paper
reports that Crash Bang Wallop is to take a larger 48-page format for its second issue, aiming to appeal to a wider age band through to the late 30s. The 'magalogue' will also be inserted in the Daily Mirror.

(The Pink Paper 27 September 1996)

Channel Four's OUT Survey

In 1994 Channel 4's OUT programme commissioned the first national survey of the size and strength of the pink economy organised by Fulcrum Productions and analysed by American firm Overlooked Opinions. 16,000 questionnaires were sent out through magazines, book shops and to small organisations up and down the country. The response rate was better than most market surveys of this type.

The survey confirmed some of the stereotypes: gay men were a third more likely to go shopping for clothes than lesbians. And lesbians own more cats. But also dislodged some other stereotypes: Entertaining at home was as popular with lesbians as gay men. And flavour of the month was visiting friends. Levi's were worn by half the sample.

The idea that lesbians and gay men might have different consuming patterns was born in America, where the pink economy came to life in the late 1980s. But it started up with the American lesbian and gay political movement who believed economic power was one route to political power.
The belief was that if we were treated fairly by companies, we would be loyal customers. By the 1990s market research companies were saying that gay men and lesbians were paid more than the national average, and that total earnings exceeded five hundred billion dollars a year.

This seemed like a dream market, especially with people frequently in dual income homes without children, high discretionary income, high education levels etc. But in practice the gay population is as diverse and as spread out as the general population. However, the corporates were interested only in the high-spending group ­p; so they advertised in the gay lifestyle magazines this group was reading.

But it is wrong to extrapolate the readerships of these style magazines into the general population, and the most recent surveys have shown that, in fact, gay men and lesbians earn no more than the average American. The result is that companies are now treating the gay market as any other legitimate niche market.

On the positive side the IKEA ad says 'we're out, comfortable, stylish; the down side is it projects a legitimacy that doesn't legally exist - gay couples have no legal status. The Benneton advertising has provoked questions... "what do I actually feel about these lovers/identical twins, or the use of a man dying of AIDS".

In the UK the survey picked up that lesbians and gay men tend to be gainfully employed, have a bank account, pensions, and shares, and are integrated members of society, albeit with a 'Guardian reading' bias. But we do have a different set of criteria when choosing how to spend our money. A certain group are trend-setting and spend more on fashion and travel and music - they're the people without dependents. So while they may earn the same, they have more disposable income.

Although the lesbians in the survey earned ten per cent less than the men's national average, they are more likely to work full-time and consequently earn a third more than heterosexual women. This group of lesbians were also more likely than the gay men to use a business which advertised in the gay media, and far more likely to use a gay-supportive business.

Advertising in the gay media is relatively cheap, but corporations are still nervous about risking their brand images by association with homosexuality. Instead, the changes to the attitudes of straight corporate America is being encouraged by their gay employees.

Less than a third of people were 'out' to everyone. And only one in five had told their co-workers.

Mirror readers' survey

Eight per cent of men, and 14 per cent of women would consider sex with a person of the same sex, according to a survey of 2000 Sunday Mirror readers conducted by opnion-polling agency ICM.

CD launched by Warner

The Daily Telegraph reports that a CD specifically for gay men is about to be launched by Warner Classics. The CD, described as "75 minutes of musical passion for men", will be called, with a hint of defiance, Sensual Classics Too. Warner Classics' marketing manager, Mr Dickon Stainer, says the concept is in tune with changing times and a realistic bid for a lucrative niche market.

"Look at all the new gay stores," he declares. "Look at the gay press and the gay clubs. The Pink Pound is gaining strength at an enormous rate."

Its 11 tracks begin with Tchaikovsky's poignant Piano Concerto No 1, move on through Brahms' reflective Symphony No 3 and progress to Bizet's languorous Symphony in C Major. But whereas the heterosexual version rises to a climax with Ravel's Bolero, the alternative CD uses the same composer's Pavane pour une Infante Defunte.

"Whether gay couples respond to different music to heterosexual couples is a topic which is being hotly debated," said Mr Bill Holland, Warner Classics general manager in Britain. "This recording will enable listeners to make up their own mind."

Two of the composers were chosen for their own suspected sexual proclivities, the company says. "Tchaikovsky was gay," declared Mr Stainer, "and there's a big question mark over Schubert."

(Daily Telegraph 13 March 1995)

Wall Street chases 'camp coin'

The Daily Telegraph reported that Wall Street was converging on this year's National Gay & Lesbian Business & Consumer Expo in New York, held in April. About a third of the 300 exhibitors were main-stream companies such as Merrill Lynch, Prudential of America, American Express Financial Advisers, and Chase Manhattan Bank.

The article reports that 'Although nobody knows the exact size of the market, the most conservative research from the United States Census finds that more than a third of gays and lesbians earn over $50,000 a year'.

American Airlines has its own sales manager for the gay and lesbian community and were also represented at this years UK Freedom Fair at the Business Design Centre. American's frequent flyer miles can be shared between gay couples.

The US event is sponsored by American Express who held seminars on financial planning basics. Estate planning is important as in most employment retirement plans only a spouse can receive money after death.

Manchester gay shopping centre

The Telegraph reports that a Manchester entrepreneur is launching what he claims will be the world's first gay shopping centre. The £1 million complex is being created in converted Victorian office blocks in an area Mancunians refer to as "the gay village".

The Phoenix Centre will include a florist, a dry cleaners which will launder dresses for tranvestites, and a restaurant and coffee bar. A travel agency will sell homosexual and lesbian package holidays alongside family excursions.

Terry King, 28, the entrepreneur and former gay-bookshop owner behind the complex, hopes to introduce a surgery and a gay and lesbian telephone switchboard. Once threatened with ejection by police from a Manchester fashion shop after he asked to try on a sarong, Mr King says he was inspired to create the gay-friendly shopping centre after hearing similar complaints from homosexual friends.

Most of the 14 shops in the complex have already been let and Mr King promises an emphasis on personal service without the usual, aggressive approach. "There will never be a situation where a ladies' clothing shop will refuse permission for a man to try on a dress. These shops are going to be fun."

There will, however, be no sex shops. "We wanted to overcome that stereotype," Mr King said.

A spokesman for Manchester City Council said there had been no problems in approving The Phoenix Centre.

(Daily Telegraph Monday 12 February 1996)

Drawn in through the 'gay window'

AS a high-profile business that is also part of popular culture, advertising gets a lot of attention from the national media. And when they need help or an opinion, the media always ask Campaign. In any one week we might get upwards of 20 requests. But last week, notwithstanding half-a-dozen interviews on the new Tory Party campaign, the most interesting call came from Gaytime TV, a late-night TV show.

Its researcher was pursuing an unusual line. "Were we able to comment on ads aimed at the gay community or featuring gays?" he wanted to know. To which the answer was: not really. That is because there are very few, the best-known being an American ad for Ikea and a recent Virgin Vodka ad shown only on cable TV. A Levi's ad last year featured a transvestite shaving in a taxi and apart from that, the researcher was told, there were none.

Undaunted, the researcher pressed on. "What about ads that used the 'gay window' theory," he asked, explaining an obscure American academic's contention that some ads contained scenes that could be interpreted by gays as being aimed at them, even though non-gay people would not see them that way. Any ad that featured male bonding could thus, according to this theory, the researcher explained, be aimed at gays. So Gillette's "the best a man can get" series might contain a secret message aimed at gays in the passage where the two pals hug each other.

This is certainly an original idea, but is the theory credible? The answer must depend on whether advertisers need to target gays. Based on the studies of gays' spending power -known as the pink pound -there are some who believe this to be a good idea. However, it is a big leap from that to the assumption that you need to sell soap, a bank or an airline differently to a gay audience. Although there could be potential to target niche drinks and financial services at gays. But this is pretty small beer and advertisers' standard line is that, apart from the notoriety and controversy such an ad would achieve, there are few benefits to targeting a commercial at the gay audience.

The real reason is probably that they are more worried about offending their non-gay audience. Indeed, when Guinness last year allowed the press to speculate that one of its ads would show two gay males kissing, there was such a furore from publicans frightened they would lose business from non-gay drinkers that Guinness took fright and the ad never appeared. Nevertheless, conspiracy theorists might look again at Army recruitment ads. The cast has a male bias, the ads are macho and a lot of bonding takes place.

The Electronic Telegraph, Tuesday May 21 1996

Hunchback of Notre Dame 'has gay overtones'

The Daily Telegraph reports that the Walt Disney Company, which is under threat of a boycott by 16 million Baptists for supposedly "disparaging Christian values", is bracing itself for more criticism when The Hunchback of Notre Dame is released in America this week.

The studio that was lambasted for presenting Pocahontas as a busty beauty is anticipating more brickbats for what it has done to Victor Hugo's story of Quasimodo, the disfigured bell-ringer. Those who have seen early screenings of the film report a dark tale of sexual obsession and genocide interspersed - for merchandise marketing opportunities, say cynics - with talking gargoyles and a cute, earring-adorned goat.

In addition, the film has been accused of having homosexual undertones because a song sung by Quasimodo, called Out There, shares its title with a gay advocacy group. "This is a movie that parents of young children should be cautious about," said Marilyn Beck, a Hollywood colmunist and film critic. "It's darker and more intense than most Disney fare."

(Daily Telegraph Wednesday June 19 1996)

Lottery cash for minority groups angers Major

John Major accused the National Lotteries Charities Board of making "ill-founded and ill-judged" decisions, which Downing Street described as "out of kilter" with public opinion. The Prime Minister's anger was aimed specifically at four awards: £82,000 to the Scottish Prostitutes Education Project; £66,000 to the West Midlands Anti-Deportation Campaign; £50,000 to the Leicester Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Centre; and £26,000 to the Gay London Policing Group.

The Gay London Policing Group is to spend the money on a full-time worker to provide support services to young victims of homophobic abuse. Two other awards were said to have raised eyebrows in Government: £112,000 to Reach Out, a lesbian, homosexual and bisexual youth group, in Reading, Berks, and £67,000 to the Milton Keynes Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Youth Line.

Mr Major's surprise attack followed an announcement by the charities board of 2,229 grants totalling £159 million to groups helping young people and the poor. He told MPs: "A small number of the awards do not in my judgment reflect the way that Parliament and public expected the lottery money to be spent."

The Government has no powers to overturn the decisions of the board, whose chairman, David Sieff, said that it stood by its decisions. He said the grants were only a "tiny fraction" of those made yesterday. They were made in strict adherence of the board's "mission statement" to help disadvantaged groups.

Mr Sieff added: "We must by law consider all applications we receive on their merit. All groups offered grants sent excellent applications to the board and were assessed thoroughly against our criteria. Their bids succeeded on the basis of their merit. Why is he denouncing a project that has been funded by the Government for three years and is continuing to receive public funds?'

(Electronic Telegraph Wednesday June 12 1996)


Homosexuality is boring
A three-page article in The Economist (Jan '96) recently suggested that around the world homosexuality is becoming boring, and that as the notion of ordinary homosexuality spreads, the ancient veil of secrecy and shame that was drawn over same-sex love is dissolving in air.

Australian Gay Bank
The Independent (Jan '96) reports that a gay and lesbian co-operative style bank, complete with credit cards and other financial services, is due to open in Sydney and Melbourne later this year. The report says that the move is necessary because banks refuse to treat gays fairly ­p; an allegation the banks reject. The Gay and Lesbian Financial Institution Research project said there was strong support within the community following a 30-page questionnaire answered by 400 gay people showed that banks were unfriendly, especially when it came to recognising joint incomes.

Hot Spots
Brighton and London are likely to become international gay 'hot spots' attracting thousands of high-spending American homosexuals according to two geographers, reports. The Independent (5 Jan '96). They researched the fast growing gay tourism industry with its hundreds of specialised gay travel agencies. Virgin is promoting its airline and vacations subsidiaries in the US gay media, and view us as 'just another market segment'.

Gay Guinness
Plans for a 'gay' commercial were put back in the closet as Rob MacNevin, Guinness's marketing director said in Marketing, it was there merely to "question the nature of relationships." It was not a gay commercial.

TV advert 'gay kiss'
Virgin has teamed up with a London bar to create a television commercial for Virgin Vodka that will show a homosexual couple kiss, reports The Independent (1 February 1996). This will be the first gay kiss in a TV ad on national television, and it will appear on MTV satallite channel for three months beginning in March.

Kings Cross Urban Diversion
Islington Council has plans to earmark part of the King's Cross Redevelopment Area for lesbian and gay businesses. Over £58 million has been set aside for improvements and conversions. The GBA is being consulted and is following progress of the plans for its members.

More Media Comment from 1997 onwards

Stephen Coote & Associates

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