Controversial ads that challenge traditional thinking

LGBT ads

Controversial ads

Today we feature a selection of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) ads that have sought to tackle stereotypes and break typical misconceptions about sexuality and gender identity. The ads below are some of the best examples of LGBT representations from the print marketing industry. Some went viral, others prompted bomb threats. But what unifies them is a commitment to support relationship equality and to challenge traditional thinking.

IKEA: Dining Room Table (1994)

In 1994, 20 years before it was ‘cool’ to cast gay couples, Ikea made a groundbreaking advert. Ikea was the first brand to feature a gay couple in a mainstream TV advertisement. The advert ran after hours, at 10pm in three markets where Ikea had a significant presence; New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. The American Family Association and its leader, the Rev. Donald Wildmon called for boycotts of Ikea stores, one of which, on Long Island, New York, was the target of a bomb threat, which turned out to be unfounded. IKEA, however, continued to air the ad, which was part of a lifestyle campaign featuring different types of consumers (a divorced mum, empty nesters, adopting parents and gay couples) that began in 1993.

Google: City Gym (2015)

Google airs a powerful ad that pulls on our heartstrings, “The Story of Jacob and City Gym” about Jacob, a transgender man, and his quest to find a gym to help him during his transition from female to male. Hailee Bland Walsh, the owner of City Gym in Kansas City, believes her gym “Should be more than a place to workout. It should be a place to belong.”

Stonewall: Some people are gay. Get over it! (2009)

Gay rights charity Stonewall made this bold, simple and iconic advert; Some people are gay. Get over it! Stonewall announced the equality message will be displayed on 1000 London buses during the government’s consultation on how to implement marriage for gay couples. Stonewall’s message is simple; Gay people are not a deviant, marginalised ‘other’ – they’re unremarkable, ordinary humans just like everyone else. Homosexuality is a fact of life. Get over it!

Stonewall LGBT ad











LGBT ads are becoming more popular and big brands aren’t afraid to get in the spirit. Companies are outwardly directing their marketing strategies toward the LGBT community. It is a momentous step forward for the LGBT community to see ads in mainstream media.