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
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
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.