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

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Abstract:

This paper investigates consumer responses to gay families portrayed in advertising, drawing on critical visual analysis, reader response analysis and queer theory. Twenty-five consumers were interviewed about a selection of family oriented ads. Several themes emerged from the interviews, including straightening up – reading apparently gay images as heterosexual, or straight, despite rather overt gay signals. This important interpretive phenomenon seems to "interfere" with processing of apparently gay imagery, revealing interesting interpretive strategies. Findings are discussed within the advertising as representation research tradition, and illuminate interpretive strategies that consumers use when confronted with culturally sensitive images in advertising.

Keywords: ADVERTISING; COMMUNICATION STRATEGY; CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR; GAY ISSUES; TARGET MARKETING; VISUAL ISSUES

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1362/026725706778935646

Publication date: November 1, 2006

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