A company famous for its blue jeans, Levi Strauss & Co., will begun marketing to gay men and lesbians through ads purchased in Out magazine next month.
The magazine will feature a 12-page insert of photos of 10 gay men and lesbians in Dockers-brand khaki pants. Actors Guinevere Turner and Wilson Cruz and photographer Eve Fowler will be included in the layout.
Openly gay subjects were picked for the ads as representations of positive role models in the gay and lesbian community.
While Levi Strauss is the first major apparel company to target gay and lesbian consumers, it is not the very first major US company to do so. Corporate giants American Express, Anheuser Busch, and Miller Brewing Co. have been running advertisements in Out and The Advocate for awhile.
“We see that a large part of that consumer zone is gay or lesbians, so we figured we really need to reach them,” said Mark Malinowski, a senior marketing specialist for Levi Strauss. “Being a gay male myself, it’s important to have these role models out there.”
Levi Strauss has reportedly spent $500,000 on advertising in gay magazines since April of this year. “We tried to find a way to speak directly to the gay consumer in a way that is relevant and meaningful to them,” continued Malinowski. “We came up with the idea of the gay role model – someone who embodies the message of being true to oneself, being an original thinker.”
When Malinowski was asked whether Levi Strauss worried about religious conservatives starting controversy over the campaign, he responded, “The point of this whole piece was to celebrate people who are true to the brands’ spirit. Everyone has a right to be who they are and be true to themselves, and we made a commitment as a company to express that. If someone else has issues with that, that is something unfortunate.”