“Take your gay best friend to visit Hong Kong,” reads a print ad released by travel agency SpringTour less than a year ago. Over the last few months, a noticeable amount (although still far-and-few between) of Chinese advertisements have been marketed towards the LGBT community. It may not seem out of place in the USA where gay marriage was just legalized, but it is a bit unusual in China.
In reaction to the recent legislation ruling in the USA, some American brands released ads that show support for the changing dynamics of the American family. The newest Tylenol commercial titled, “How We Family” features all sorts of families: white, black, bi-racial and gay. The voice over in the ad states: “It’s not about who you love but how you love.”
#HowWeFamily was released right after gay marriage became legal across the entire U.S.
The response to the new legislation was not limited to the United States. Many global companies and even some Chinese exclusive brands showed support for the ruling by producing ads featuring the “rainbow flag” Chinese companies such as Sense-U Clip and yongche.com also participated. Alibaba’s Taobao, similar to eBay, went even further than just raising the rainbow flag. Taobao helped Chinese couples get married in the US. They hosted a contest last Valentine’s Day and ten same-sex Chinese couples won a trip to California to get married. The trip was financed by a Chinese bedding company called Bliss which sells its products via Alibaba.
And, although the court ruling in the US has increased the publicity of these advertisements, LGBT advertising is not completely new to China. There is one Chinese ad in particular that generated a lot of discussion about the portrayal of the LGBT community. The ad was launched by IKEA in Taiwan about a year ago.
China might has a long way to go before legalizing gay, but local brands took advantage of the American hot topic as an instant event marketing.
A controversial spot from Taiwan Ikea last year.
It starts with a serious breakup between two men. As the men hug goodbye the video changes to show the man hugging a couch. The message of the ad? Break-up with your old furniture, IKEA has you covered. Some critics bashed IKEA saying that this ad insinuated that gay people quickly rotate partners.
In a less controversial commercial, available online only, the jewelry company Enzo released “Mr. Right.” The two-minute ad is for Enzo’s jewelry collection Commitment. While the ad is not targeted exclusively to the LGBT community it does invite them into a conversation about love and commitment.
The commercial features three couples dancing: a gay couple doing ballet, a lesbian couple dancing to the waltz and a heterosexual couple doing the tango. Each couple appears to be dancing the way lovers dance, lost in the rhythm of each other.
The beautiful dance spot – “Mr. Right.”by Enzo jewelry.
Director Yocky Zhang pitched the creative idea for this commercial when Enzo asked for a commercial that appealed to, “any kind of love.” In a personal interview with SHP+, we asked him why he chose the dances he did. Zhang explained that the tango displays energy and power and the waltz has lots of movement and rhythm. Zhang said that rhythm is as essential to love as it is to dance.
导演Yocky Zhang是针对Enzo 广告主题——“任何一种爱”提出了这个创意。他告诉SHP+：他之选择这三种不同的舞蹈是因为探戈是力量与能量的展现，华尔兹则要求较大的运动幅度和强烈的节奏感；对舞蹈来说，节奏是最本质的内容；这一点，对于爱来说是一样。
Zhang had more to say about ballet: “Ballet is normal for boys,” he said. “It helps depict normality.” While it may still be taboo for men to date men it is not as unusual to see them dance together.
Up until 2001, homosexuality was considered a mental disorder according to the Chinese government. It is still considered a taboo subject (as most sex related topics are) and gay marriage is still unrecognized by the Chinese government as a legal commitment. Despite this, it does appear that LGBT targeting advertising is making its way east. However, it may still be a while before you can invite your Chinese gay best friend to Hong Kong.