GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, is reacting to the minimal inclusion of LGBTQ people and stories featured in ads that aired during Super Bowl LVII on Sunday, February 12 and is reminding brands, corporations and advertising agencies why including the LGBTQ community in cultural moments such as the Super Bowl is so crucial.
GLAAD’s Visibility Project, launched in 2021 with P&G to grow LGBTQ inclusion in advertising, tracked ads that aired during Super Bowl LVII. Among them this year, only ads from Rakuten, GM x Netflix, Google, and Doritos explicitly featured LGBTQ people, of which none include any LGBTQ storytelling.
These four LGBTQ-inclusive ads can be found below:
- Rakuten: The Extended Cher Cut, featuring Christian Siriano
- GM x Netflix: Why Not an EV?, featuring ‘Queer Eye’ stars Jonathan Van Ness and Antoni Porowski
- Google Pixel: #FixedOnPixel, featuring Doja Cat
- Doritos: Jack’s New Angle, featuring Elton John
Before the start of the game, McDonald’s aired an ad starring Cardi B and Offset that featured a queer couple, the only inclusion of non-celebrity LGBTQ actors of the evening.
lets make it official pic.twitter.com/tARsmZaqDv
— McDonald’s (@McDonalds) February 13, 2023
The NFL committed to LGBTQ-inclusion in their own halftime NFL Super Bowl LVII Commercial Run With It with a cameo by tennis legend Billie Jean King.
“It’s unfortunate that LGBTQ-inclusive advertising was not more prevalent during the Super Bowl this year, said GLAAD President & CEO, Sarah Kate Ellis. “Though we saw a similar quantity of representation to 2022, there was a clear lack of intersectional representation. At a time when LGBTQ rights are being put in jeopardy through harmful legislation across the country, we call on brands to leverage the audience reach and cultural impact of an event like the Super Bowl to bring LGBTQ people and issues into the mainstream conversation,” Ellis said.
Last year, GLAAD’s Visibility Project found that LGBTQ people and issues were nearly invisible in Super Bowl ads with only four ads from Google, T-Mobile, NBC, and Peacock. Before the start of the game, out tennis legend and LGBTQ champion Billie Jean King was prominently featured in a segment about Title IX and the importance of equality in sports. On the field, the Los Angeles Rams made history by having five out gay cheerleaders on the sidelines during the game. Actress Sandra Mae Frank wore a Progress Pride pin while performing the National Anthem with country artist Mickey Guyton and “America the Beautiful” with R&B singer Jhene Aiko in American Sign Language on behalf of the National Association of the Deaf. Maureen Raisch, a trans artist and NFL employee, also designed the logo for the Super Bowl that year.
In 2020, there were at least eleven LGBTQ-inclusive ads from Amazon Alexa, Budweiser, Doritos, HGTV, Microsoft, Olay, Pop Tarts, Sabra, Tide, TurboTax, and Under Armour that aired during Super Bowl LIV. In 2021, at least four LGBTQ-inclusive ads from M&M’s, Michelob ULTRA, Logitech, and Paramount+ aired during Super Bowl LV. While the visibility of LGBTQ entertainers and notables within these ads is significant and illustrates progress from previous years, few spotlight LGBTQ stories and voices in definitive and expansive ways.
On Wednesday, the National Football League (NFL) hosted A Night of Pride with GLAAD, sponsored by Smirnoff at the Sheraton Downtown in Phoenix, Arizona. The evening was hosted by Lance Bass and featured a performance by Betty Who, with special guests, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis, who were joined by LGBTQ leaders, allies and LGBTQ athletes. The evening featured two special panel discussions. The first, Coming Out as an LGBTQ Corporate Ally, powered by Smirnoff was moderated by MTV Correspondent Ryan Mitchell and featured Ed Pilkington, Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer, Diageo; Tim Ellis, EVP & CMO of the NFL; Liz Jenkins, Chair of the GLAAD Board of Directors & COO of Hello Sunshine; and Leslie Vesper, VP of Brand Marketing, Smartfood Brands, Frito-Lay. A second panel, LGBTQ NFL Experience powered by Yahoo!, was moderated by Yahoo! journalist David Artavia and featured NFL Free Agent R.K. Russell, Carolina Top Cats’ Cheerleader Justine Lindsay and Hampton University football player Byron Perkins. Press images from the event can be found here.
In 2021, GLAAD launched the Visibility Project, a campaign in partnership with P&G to drive and to sustain LGBTQ inclusion in ads and marketing. Despite the fact that 1 in 6 Generation Z adults identify as part of the LGBTQ community, according to Gallup polling, a 2021 study by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media found only 2% of characters in ads from the annual Cannes Lions festival were LGBTQ. With the Visibility Project, P&G and GLAAD are bringing together the world’s top brands and ad agencies working to advance LGBTQ inclusion in ads, creating and providing tools, techniques and resources for industry executives, and harnessing the power of advertising to accelerate LGBTQ acceptance.
GLAAD’s research showcases both positive audience reception to LGBTQ inclusion in ads, as well as a growing willingness from brands to include LGBTQ people in ads. In conjunction with the launch of the Visibility Project, GLAAD & P&G released findings from “LGBTQ Inclusion in Advertising and Media, Advertiser and Agency Perspectives” Study, which showed that marketing and ad executives are more concerned about the risks of inauthentic representation and response from the LGBTQ community than with a public backlash for including LGBTQ people. Read the full study here. In May 2020, GLAAD released the findings from its first study with P&G called the “LGBTQ Inclusion in Advertising and Media” study. The study details how non-LGBTQ Americans respond to TV, films, and ads featuring LGBTQ representation. Results demonstrated high comfortability around viewing LGBTQ images in the media, favorability towards brands with LGBTQ-inclusive advertising, and that inclusive media images lead to greater acceptance and understanding. Read the full study here.
GLAAD rewrites the script for LGBTQ acceptance. As a dynamic media force, GLAAD tackles tough issues to shape the narrative and provoke dialogue that leads to cultural change. GLAAD protects all that has been accomplished and creates a world where everyone can live the life they love. For more information, please visit glaad.org or connect with GLAAD on Facebook and Twitter.