Here’s some more commentary on the issue of gay athletes receiving endorsement deals.
“This marks a real change in climate for the engagement of corporate America. People are recognizing that sexual orient need not be a barrier to be a corporate spokesperson. In the past, Billie Jean King and others lost endorsement deals,” Ben Finzel, co-chair of Fleishman Out Front says. “It was harder for them to be engaged. It’s important for companies to realize that marketing and advertising to the gay communities will not hurt their reputation. When T.R. Knight, [the actor that plays Dr. George O’Malley on Grey’s Anatomy came out to the media], he didn’t lose his job. It didn’t affect the show at all.”
“The mainstream companies that target the gay and lesbian community see that they are expendable consumers. Gays and lesbians do appreciate companies that market to them in a sensitive way, that recognize their community for what it is. And in turn, they’re very brand loyal,” says Steve Kauffman, co-chair for Fleishman Out Front. These companies need to be understanding, and not just throw ads into mainstream gay publications. There needs to be an honest engagement. The L.G.B.T (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) group is made up of really sophisticated consumers who look at companies that are socially responsible and involved in cause-marketing; these have to be fully engaged companies.”
The two shared that a Fleishman Out Front 2006 consumer survey reveals that 81% of US adults say it doesn't matter if a company whose products they use also promotes them to the gay and lesbian community.