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Washington Blade: LGBTQ News, Politics, LGBTQ Rights, Gay News: GLAAD: LGBTQ people ‘nearly invisible’ in mainstream advertising

Advertisers received failing grades in a new scorecard produced by GLAAD and a marketing analytics company, part of what the media advocacy organization labeled the first-ever LGBTQ visibility index of mainstream TV ads. 

Madison Avenue is deliberately making the community “invisible to appease anti-LGBTQ activists,” according to its president and CEO. 

The GLAAD Advertising Visibility Index, which was released overnight during the 2023 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, also revealed a majority of consumers support brands that are LGBTQ inclusive. 

According to the report, 66 percent of Americans surveyed said they feel advertisers have a responsibility to provide visibility for LGBTQ individuals, couples, and families within their content. And Gen Z respondents were nearly 1.5x more likely to say advertisers are not appropriately representing LGBTQ people.

GLAAD’s scorecard graded ads based on how they showed representation, the type of LGBTQ content in the ads, how much screen time LGBTQ people were given, as well as when and where these ads were shown. Each ad was rated on a 5-point scale that ranged from “Failing” to “Excellent.”

  • Of the 436 ads that appeared on national broadcast, cable and satellite television from the top 10 largest advertisers, LGBTQ people received a paltry 1.42 percent of screen time.
  • Only 3 percent of those TV ads from the top 10 largest advertisers included LGBTQ people.
  • Not one LGBTQ-inclusive ad reviewed in this report rated higher than “Insufficient” in  representation.
  • More than 70 percent of inclusive ads featured LGBTQ celebrities, although celebrity inclusion is the least effective driver for telling LGBTQ stories in advertising, according to GLAAD and Kantar’s survey of U.S. consumers.

“The ad industry is decades behind television and film when it comes to LGBTQ inclusion, but consumers are ready and willing to see the industry grow the quality, quantity, and diversity of ads,” said GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis in a statement to the Washington Blade. “Brands that keep us invisible to appease anti-LGBTQ activists are not only missing a large and loyal consumer base today, but are missing a future generation of consumers and employees who demand that brands include LGBTQ people and other diverse communities in authentic and organic ways.”

According to the report, “consumers placed high importance on inclusive ads featuring universal empathy and realism, more than LGBTQ celebrities.”

  • 54 percent of consumers who took part in the survey said quality representation includes LGBTQ people in realistic stories and with instances of empathy and humanity.
  • Only 31 percent of consumers who responded said good representation is rooted in featuring a celebrity who is LGBTQ.
  • 79 percent of non-LGBTQ+ consumers and 88 percent of LGBTQ consumers agreed brands should strive for what GLAAD called “multi-dimensional and human representation” when including LGBTQ people in advertising or content. 

“Consumers have spoken,” said Valeria Piaggio, global head of diversity, equity and inclusion for Kantar. “They want business to do better and are prepared to change their buying decisions if companies do not. Data from Kantar U.S. MONITOR finds that 67 percent of people state that it’s important for companies they buy from actively promote diversity and inclusion in their own business or society as a whole.”

You can read the full report at

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