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Companies spend big bucks to advertise during the Super Bowl, but very few invested in LGBTQ representation this year, according to GLAAD’s Visibility Project.
The media advocacy organization reported that among the commercials that aired during the big game on Sunday, just four explicitly featured LGBTQ people — Rakuten (Christian Siriano), GM x Netflix (Jonathan Van Ness and Antoni Porowski), Google Pixel (Doja Cat) and Doritos (Elton John) — while the NFL’s own halftime spot, “Run With It,” included Billie Jean King. In all cases, the celebrities appeared in brief cameos and the spots did not include “LGBTQ storytelling,” as GLAAD put it. (McDonald’s, however, did air a pre-Super Bowl spot that featured a queer and non-celebrity couple.)
“It’s unfortunate that LGBTQ-inclusive advertising was not more prevalent during the Super Bowl this year,” GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement. “Though we saw a similar quantity of representation to 2022, there was a clear lack of intersectional representation. At a time when LGBTQ rights are being put in jeopardy through harmful legislation across the country, we call on brands to leverage the audience reach and cultural impact of an event like the Super Bowl to bring LGBTQ people and issues into the mainstream conversation.”
Super Bowl LVII’s “minimal” LGBTQ representation matched 2022 and 2021’s total of four LGBTQ-inclusive spots each. Although last year, NFL employee Maureen Raisch, a trans artist, designed the Super Bowl logo, the Los Angeles Rams had a record-high of five out gay cheerleaders, and deaf actress Sandra Mae Frank wore a Progress Pride pin while singing the national anthem and “America the Beautiful” on the field. GLAAD reported that there were at least 11 LGBTQ-inclusive ads that aired during the 2020 Super Bowl.
On the Wednesday before this year’s game, GLAAD partnered with the league for A Night of Pride, hosted by Lance Bass and attended by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. The event, held at Phoenix’s Sheraton Downtown, featured two panel discussions sponsored by Smirnoff and Yahoo!, respectively: Coming Out as an LGBTQ Corporate Ally, featuring executives from Diageo, the NFL, Hello Sunshine and Frito-Lay, and LGBTQ NFL Experience, featuring former NFL defensive end R.K. Russell (the league’s first active player to come out as bisexual), Carolina Panthers dancer Justine Lindsay (the league’s first out trans cheerleader) and Hampton defensive back Byron Perkins (the first HBCU player to come out as gay).
GLAAD launched its Visibility Project in partnership with P&G in 2021 in order to promote LGBTQ inclusion in advertising and marketing. That year, the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media reported that just 2 percent of characters in ads at the Cannes Lions festival were LGBTQ, whereas 5.6 percent of Americans (and one in six Generation Z-ers) identify as part of the community. The project has so far released two studies indicating that inclusive media representation leads to greater understanding and also that industry executives and non-LGBTQ viewers both seek more authentic inclusion of LGBTQ people.
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