“Only Nixon could go to China.”
A Procter & Gamble ad promoting their Olympic sponsorship reminds me of this old political chestnut, made popular by “Star Trek VI.” I speak in particular of the vignette of a bullied, gay male figure skater being consoled by his mother.
As the right-thinking among us say “it’s about time,” let me ad some context. Nearly a quarter-century ago, I conducted communication check interviews for Cognac Hennessy to determine whether an ad read “gay” or not.
For the blessedly uninitiated, brands often run communication check interviews to confirm that an ad gets the main idea over to its audience. So Bud might conduct communication check research to ensure that beer drinkers who saw a TV spot heard “beechwood aged” enough times to get the point.
Hennessy’s ad, a pencil sketch concept at this point, featured a younger man hugging an older man with a headline about the experience of coming home. As an aside, the sketch of the younger man bore a striking resemblance to our account director, David Freeman (RIP, Dieter), Apparently, two men hugging in 1994 was a big deal. So happens, most respondents didn’t see the ad as depicting gay men, although a few suggested that maybe the younger man was gay and the hug signaled acceptance from his father.
Lots of things happened between then and now, including “Will & Grace” and Obergfell v. Hodges. Ellen DeGeneres kissed a woman on prime time TV and the world didn’t end. The arc has truly bent towards justice on this issue, even as some remain opposed. As Kahlil Gibran said, “the dogs bark, but the caravan moves on.”
Kudos to P&G for joining the caravan and leaving the dogs behind.