It’s official: Corporate America supports gay marriage.
In ads that ran Friday night during the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics, all-American car manufacturer Chevrolet spotlighted a melange of diverse, real-life families that included gay couples, interracial couples, and couples that were both same-sex and interracial.
The ads, made by Commonwealth Detroit, make Chevrolet the first brand to show a gay couple in an ad at the Olympics and the latest in a long line of major companies that have explicitly associated themselves with gay marriage in their advertising.
In sharp contrast to the anti-gay policies of the Olympics host country, Russia, the default setting for America’s biggest corporations these days is one that accepts, if not promotes, gay marriage.
Chevrolet’s statement follows an outbreak of branded celebrations that occurred when the Supreme Court struck down the Defence of Marriage Act this past June. The ruling forced overturned a law banning the federal government from recognise state-issued marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples, and was cheered by American institutions like Goldman Sachs, Microsoft, and Johnson & Johnson.
It’s one thing for a relatively young West Coast tech operation like Microsoft to support gay marriage, and another thing entirely for Chevrolet, a paragon of American tradition located smack dab in the middle of the country.
The push by big brands to take a stand in favour of gay marriage comes at a time when young people increasingly want the companies whose products they buy to reflect their personal values. According to a recent study from Boston Consulting Group, 50% of Americans aged 18-24 said that the brands they buy reflect their values, with 48% of them saying they try to use brands that are active in supporting social causes.
For brands, supporting gay marriage offers an opportunity to appeal to these young people by taking a stand on an issue that remains controversial in the public arena, but has largely been decided among younger Americans.
A recent study from The Pew Research Center’s Religion and Public Life Project finds an upward trend of American millennials who support gay marriage, with 66% of them declaring themselves in favour in a poll released this past June. At this point, taking a stance in opposition to gay marriage, as was done in 2012 by fast-food chain Chick-fil-A, is a far riskier move for brands than making a statement in support.
The economic incentives for pro-gay advertising notwithstanding, brands like Chevrolet that integrate families with gay couples into their advertising can be credited with (or blamed for, depending on your perspective) helping to re-enforce the idea that gay families are normal, natural members of American society.
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