In a year where the Super Bowl commercials are as anticipated as the game itself, the Kansas City Chiefs’ victory over the San Francisco 49ers was accompanied by a notable shift towards inclusivity in advertising, particularly concerning LGBTQ+ representation. An analysis by GLAAD’s Visibility Project highlighted this year’s increase from four to ten LGBTQ-inclusive ads. Among them, Volkswagen distinguished itself by championing queer marriage, a narrative rich in both affection and support. This progression is especially poignant against the backdrop of a year riddled with anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, positioning Volkswagen’s campaign as a beacon of authentic representation in the corporate realm.
The Shortcomings of Representation
Despite the strides made, GLAAD’s analysis underscores significant gaps in the landscape of LGBTQ+ visibility in advertising. The critique points towards a lack of trans representation and an overemphasis on white LGBTQ+ individuals, suggesting a missed opportunity to showcase the community’s intersectional diversity. Moreover, the inaugural Advertising Visibility Index by GLAAD accentuates a consumer preference for ads that portray LGBTQ+ lives in a more realistic and nuanced manner, beyond the superficial allure of celebrity endorsements.
A Call for Authentic Inclusion
Volkswagen’s ad featuring a lesbian wedding stands out not just for its explicit LGBTQ+ narrative but also for its challenge to the industry to embrace more genuine and diverse storytelling. This call for inclusivity is echoed by GLAAD president & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis, who emphasizes the Super Bowl as a pivotal moment for advertisers to engage with a broader, more diverse audience, particularly considering over one in five members of Gen Z identify as LGBTQ+. Ellis’s critique of the current advertising landscape during the Super Bowl as failing to reflect the inclusivity proclaimed by the NFL underlines a crucial disconnect between declared values and practiced reality.
The Future of LGBTQ+ Inclusion in Advertising
Last year’s Super Bowl highlighted the scarcity of non-celebrity LGBTQ+ representation, with a notable exception being a McDonald’s ad featuring a queer couple. GLAAD’s call to action is not merely for an increase in the quantity of LGBTQ+ inclusive ads but for a shift towards quality representation that mirrors the complexity and diversity of LGBTQ+ lives. The 10 queer-inclusive commercials from this year’s Super Bowl represent a step forward, yet the journey towards full inclusivity remains ongoing.