The Gay Family in the Ad: Consumer Responses to Non-Traditional Families in Marketing Communications

Journal of Marketing Management, Vol. 22, pp. 955-978, 2006

37 Pages Posted: 22 May 2007 Last revised: 4 Jul 2021

See all articles by Janet L. Borgerson

Janet L. Borgerson

DePaul University

Jonathan E. Schroeder

Rochester Institute of Technology

Abstract

This paper investigates consumer responses to gay families portrayed in advertising, drawing on critical visual analysis, reader response analysis and queer theory. The results from twenty-five interviews showed that the ability to discover a family theme in ads is related to how consumers define 'family;' that attitude toward target ads influences attitude toward the advertiser, and that interpretive frame affects overall evaluation of advertising imagery. Several themes emerged from the interviews, including 'straightening up' - reading apparently gay images as heterosexual, or straight, despite rather overt gay signals. Marketing communications work as representational systems and signifying practices that reflect, create and resolve cultural tensions of identity, sexuality and intersubjectivity, making representations of gay families in advertising crucial sites of negotiation in consumer culture.

Keywords: Advertising, Target Marketing, Gay, Representations, Family

JEL Classification: M30, M37, Z10

Suggested Citation

Borgerson, Janet L. and Schroeder, Jonathan E., The Gay Family in the Ad: Consumer Responses to Non-Traditional Families in Marketing Communications. Journal of Marketing Management, Vol. 22, pp. 955-978, 2006, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=741944

Janet L. Borgerson

DePaul University ( email )

Institute for Business and Professional Ethics
Chicago, USA
United States
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Jonathan E. Schroeder (Contact Author)

Rochester Institute of Technology ( email )

92 Lomb Memorial Drive
Eastman Building, Room 3006
Rochester, NY 14623
United States
5854752703 (Phone)

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