Witeck launches service for untapped gay market

WASHINGTON, DC: Believing that many companies are failing to use PR to tap into an important marketplace - and one replete with disposable income - Witeck*Combs (WC) has launched a service to help Fortune 500 companies looking to reach gay and lesbian consumers.

WASHINGTON, DC: Believing that many companies are failing to use PR to tap into an important marketplace - and one replete with disposable income - Witeck*Combs (WC) has launched a service to help Fortune 500 companies looking to reach gay and lesbian consumers.

WASHINGTON, DC: Believing that many companies are failing to use PR

to tap into an important marketplace - and one replete with disposable

income - Witeck*Combs (WC) has launched a service to help Fortune 500

companies looking to reach gay and lesbian consumers.



The service, the Gay Market Assessment, analyzes a company’s prior

internal and external relations with gays and lesbians. It also takes a

look at the company’s products and services and their potential appeal

within the gay marketplace.



Claiming that the advertising-dominated marketing strategies of these

companies have failed to reach gay consumers, WC director of marketing

strategies Tony Hain said PR could well be the ideal marketing vehicle

for this audience. The gay community, he explained, is more socially

conscious than most other demographic groups, and often looks for

tangible expression of corporate concern, such as assistance to gay and

lesbian causes and a record of non-discrimination against employees and

customers.



Hain added that no restaurant chain or franchise effectively reaches out

to gay consumers, though gays tend to eat out more often than other

groups. Similarly, suppliers of nutritional supplements and HMOs often

fail to successfully orient communications to the gay community.



WC partner Wes Combs said that companies interested in reaching the gay

market would be well-advised to go online. He noted that gay.com

received 1.5 million visitors last month, a figure that far surpasses

the circulation of the leading publication targeted to gay readers.



WC, established in 1993 by Bob Witeck and Wes Combs, has already

established a track record as gay marketers. The agency has helped

several well-known companies, including American Airlines, reach out to

gay and lesbian consumers.



In the mid-1990s, a remark by an American Airlines employee that

material used by an HIV positive passenger needed to be destroyed

generated of unfavorable publicity. WC stepped in and advised American

to create a Diversity Advisory Council, as well as increase its support

for gay and lesbian events and organizations. As a result, American

doubled its traceable revenue from tickets purchased by gay and lesbian

travel agents.



WC will not take any clients, however, unless management is sincere in

its desire to develop better relations with the gay community. Prior to

founding the agency, Witeck worked on Capitol Hill as an aide to then-US

Senator Bob Packwood and later at Hill & Knowlton in its corporate PR

practice, while Combs worked in marketing at IBM.



WC’s projected 1999 billings are expected to exceed dollars 600,000.



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