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Beautiful Gay Advertising

by Bernardo van Eekhout in Lifestyle & Fashion , 26 september 2009

Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar

Unfortunately we don’t see much commercial advertising specifically aimed at the homosexual community on the Dutch market. The cosmetic industry has no qualms advertising in gay magazines in other countries, so why then do they ignore the Dutch market?

Gays are often an attractive target group for companies. They’re more trend-sensitive and quality-minded than the average consumer. They’re “early adopters.” They buy innovative products sooner and are therefore the vanguard of the subsequent legions of consumers. Gays are also very loyal. Especially when the label explicitly addresses them in their specific gay media. So in foreign gay magazines you’ll find plenty of ads from L’Oréal, Biotherm Homme, Nivea or Lab Series by Aramis. Ads for skin care for men. They do know that gay marketing works, or do they think the Dutch consumer is not worth it?

According to Simone Blijvoet of Zenith Optimedia (with brands such as Dior Homme Sport and Givenchy Play for customer) the budget for Holland is just very different from other countries. “We go for the non-gay magazines like ‘JFK’ or ‘Esquire,’ say the unisex media, and then there’s not that much left for the gay magazines.

We definitely don’t discriminate because we think the gays form an interesting target group. We just assume that they will also read other magazines and not just the specific gay magazines. We hope to reach them via the other ads, we don’t target them specifically.” Vincent Ruhe, Communication Planner of MediaCom, agrees: “You have to aim at men in general, that’s the basic line. Sometimes there’s a real link with a gay magazine and then it might just be obvious, but we generally just go with what the product is and does.”

L’Oréal (Gay) Men Expert?

At L’Oréal Holland they also try to reach the male gay consumer through the regular straight magazines. “We look at the most efficient way to reach as many men as possible,” says Annemiek Gierveld, PR and Communications Manager at L’Oréal Netherlands. “But in Holland the printed media are more difficult, so we decided not to focus on them. We’re not avoiding gay magazines, we don’t do many magazines anyway.” This is not entirely true because L’Oréal Men Expert ads have appeared in several gay magazines abroad, with especially adapted slogans so they were clearly aimed at the gay male.

Recent products with a high gay value are Jean Paul Gaultier’s “Monsieur” line. An extended assortment with some “make-up” for daily use, like the eyebrow pencil, a concealer (camouflage for irregularities) and a powder bronzer. Aimed at men, who know what’s suitable at any occasion and who are able to adapt to changes in moods. Ideal gay magazine advertising stuff, right?
“The ‘Monsieur’ products will definitely be bought by gays, but we don’t have sufficient advertising budget,” says Marjolein Scharten of the Dutch importer Beauté Prestige International. “We don’t have a running campaign for ‘Monsieur’ and we only have a local budget. We don’t just follow direct orders from Paris, we have to set priorities and we favor Gaultier’s ‘Le Male.’ This fragrance is aimed at a more general audience although we have advertised occasionally in ‘Winq.’”

Another cosmetics giant is the Japanese Shiseido, with an extensive range of products for men in a significantly more exclusive segment. The products range from self-tanners, shaving creams to hydrating lotions and recovery creams. They advertise regularly in the Spanish gay magazine “Zero.” They also visibly sponsored a couple of floats in Madrid’s Gay Pride. Shiseido is clearly supporting the Spanish gay community.

I ask my Belgian Shiseido contact Séverine Gevaert (PR Manager Benelux) why it is that those ads don’t appear in Dutch gay magazines. She thinks it’s because there’s not enough interesting advertising material for men. “Many of the Shiseido ads just show the product itself without a model, so it becomes less interesting to print. Besides, we hardly ever advertise our products for men. When we do, we opt for the big magazines, like ‘Cosmopolitan’.” She admits the products for men don’t get the same budgets for their campaigns the women-products do. “The advertising campaigns are always in line with the marketing department in Belgium.” But why advertise in gay magazines in other countries but not in The Netherlands? “There’s no direct reason why we wouldn’t advertise in gay magazines. There are not that many gay magazines in Belgium. It’s not that we explicitly don’t want it at Shiseido. We are very aware of the fact that many gay men use our Shiseido men’s products,” says Séverine Gevaert.

Nivea For (Gay) Men?

The best-known Belgian glossy is “GUS.” The latest issue actually sports four full-page ads of Nivea for Men. Photos of several half undressed guys surrounded by the various Nivea for Men products. “Nivea asked us how to campaign in our magazine,” says “GUS.” “We developed the concept together with the Nivea Brand Manager: the layout, the photos, everything. We used to also work together with L’Oréal but that stopped a year ago. This is because of a new brand manager who doesn’t think the gay market is interesting enough.”

Nivea has been a household name for ages and is available in every pharmacy. A recently held survey of readers of the Dutch “Gay Krant” showed Nivea as one of the best-selling brands in this group. Over the past few years Nivea has swiftly but very carefully expanded its range of products aimed at men. So right beside the Nivea shaving cream there’s now also Facial cream Q10, the Summerlook Facial, or the DNAGE Anti Age Facial. This has been a very appropriate move as men show increasing interest in these types of products.

The Dutch man has become quite self-aware, and is prepared to spend up to about twenty-seven euros per month, which is about four euros more than women. He shaves, not just his face, but also the groin and armpits. Surveys show that amongst eighteen to forty-five-year olds fifty-five percent shave their armpits and thirty-six percent their groin. Nivea anticipated by introducing a new 3-in-1 product: Nivea for Men Active 3.

This shower gel is for in the shower and can be used for shaving both facial and body hair. Very comfortable. To introduce the product amongst gay men they chose to place an advert flash on the “Gay Krant” website. Nivea for Men brand manager Holland, Tim Maas, says that gay men are often in the forefront. “They are early adopters. Gay men will mainly use the Active 3 and that’s why we chose to promote it via the ‘Gay Krant’ site. We’ve had a lot of hits through the site so it’s working. The product’s not just for gays though of course.

Most definitely also for straight men.” Nivea has had earlier experience with specific gay advertising in Holland. Three years ago they promoted their Nivea Body lotion for men in the magazines “Squeeze” and “Winq.” “We thought it was going to be popular with gays so we chose to put ads in these magazines.” But that’s basically it. Nivea’s ads keep popping up in other gay magazines in Europe, like in the Spanish “Zero” or the German “Front.”

Why is Holland lagging? “The budgets in Holland are too small,” claims Anita Hobbe, media planner of Nivea Netherlands. “The reason why it happens in other countries is because they have different goals and budgets. The Active 3 spot on the ‘Gay Krant’ site is a pilot for us. Paired with a small budget.” Anita also confirms the gay’s status as an early adopter pioneer. They have not specifically researched it but it is generally assumed they are loyal users of facial care products. The market is already covered without having to specifically address the target group. “It’s our main objective to penetrate the straight men’s market with our products. We want the straight men to start using our products more,” says Anita Hobbe.

Dutch Gay Marketing?

It’s hard to gain cosmetics’ ads for Dutch gay magazines. “It’s obvious the companies are not ready yet, too narrow-minded,” says Philippine Herkes, Account manager Online Sales of the Amsterdam acquisition bureau Recent. The “Gay Krant” approached this agency a year ago for assistance in finding new advertisers.

“We’re close to Amsterdam and have personal contact with our customers. We also have a lot of experience with acquisition and through our networks we have the right contacts with various media bureaus.” All well-known cosmetic brands, such as Vichy Homme, Biotherm Homme, L’Oréal, have been approached by Philippine to invite them to advertise in the “Gay Krant.” Without success.

“They simply don’t budget it. In contrast with what they do in other countries, sometimes with flourishing gay marketing, they don’t have separate gay budgeting. Ninety percent of the advertising budget is spent on women, so there’s not much left for men in general. I think it’s a hugely missed opportunity looking at what gays spend on cosmetics and perfume. They have a lot of money to spend.” The cooperation between Nivea and the “Gay Krant” with the Nivea Active 3 site commercial is rather unique in this story. “Nivea approached us, it was a temporary campaign of a month and a half.

The commercial was a success, measured by the number of hits. Let’s hope the Nivea example will get a sequel, not everyone can spend a lot of money on this stuff and Nivea is affordable.” It’s a shame other companies shun the gay media in Holland still. Afraid to be labeled as a gay brand? “Some brands are not as cool as they make out to be and that’s a shame. They’re shooting in their own foot because they miss a lot of opportunities this way. I really hope the cosmetic industry will start to invest in this very valuable target group.”



In the New Issue of Gay News, 323, July 2018

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