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June 2, 2005

Ford Pride

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In Europe, car companies have tailored advertising to gays for years now.  With the practice fairly new to the States, however, the American Family Association — led by the grossly over entitled Donald Wildmon — has been motivated to launch boycottFord.com

The AFA is inflamed over the fact Ford offers donations to gay and lesbian organizations as a sales incentive. They also take issue with Ford over corporate policies and programs that support gay couples and families.  If you go through their site, they also protest the support of events, promotions, websites and promotional material that supports “the gay lifestyle.” 

In targeting promotional material and, particularly, magazine advertising, these “pro-straight” activists cast a wide net over what they deem visually offensive.  Their home page, for example, features a prominent graphic link displaying a rotating series of auto ads.  (One thing they don’t mention is that most of the advertisements are several years old and/or developed exclusively for foreign markets.)

By including this Jaguar piece in their rotating link, the AFA is lumping together ads they call “pro-homosexual” with others they categorize as “sexually explicit.”  (If you look at what they call “explicit,” by the way, it really seems no more than suggestive.)

With all the aspersion, I thought it worthwhile to take a closer look at this Jaguar ad.  (Full size here.)  Of course, the “Pride” title and the text is clearly targeted to gay concerns.  Graphically though, I have trouble understanding how this rather elegant layout might be interpreted as “homosexual.”

Therefore, my question for you is:  Does this visual actually contain a gay theme?

Is this a gay image because the hood ornament is facing the car?  Is the depiction of the Jaguar “going the other way” a visual hook for a gay audience?

Is this a gay image because the large shiny silver object is supposed to suggest an anatomical feature?

Or, is this a gay image because the American Family Council deems it so, or because they packaged it with other ads that are suggestive?

(image: commercialcloset.org)

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