More than half of LGBT+ community feels ‘invisible’ in advertising

Many gay and bisexual men believe the advertising world does not represent them fairly.


The LGBT+ community often feels ignored and invisible when it comes to advertising, a new study has found.

More than 2,000 British users of the gay social networking app Grindr, made up of gay and bisexual men aged between 18 and 34, were questioned on their relationship with digital media and advertising by creative media agency UM London.

Almost half of respondents (49%) said they would be more likely to buy from brands who show LGBT+ people in their adverts, while 69% thought brands have a big part to play in challenging and progressing society’s views.

A staggering 54% of gay and bisexual young male respondents even said they might have come out sooner if brands had shown LGBT+ people like them when they were growing up.

READ MORE: How brands can fly the flag for the LGBT community

The research shows that brands still have a long way to go when it comes to including the LGBT+ community in their advertising. Two-third of respondents (66%) feel there aren’t enough LGBT+ people shown in marketing campaigns, and 52% consider the LGBT+ community to be “invisible” in advertising.

While greater representation by brands was shown to be something the LGBT+ population clearly wants, the term ‘pink pound’ (a phrase coined in the 1980s to describe the purchasing power of the LGBT+ community) was shown to be deeply problematic, with 42% of respondents saying they found the term offensive.

“We partnered with Grindr to understand how young gay and bisexual males in the UK use dating apps and social media, but the study provided a robust lens on the sentiment of this community,” says Michael Brown, UM London insights director and author of the report, who also spoke at the Diversity in Advertising and Marketing Summit yesterday (5 April).

According to UM’s study, the 18 to 34 gay and bisexual audience is 20% more likely to use Twitter and Instagram, with 54% and 34% said to have used these platforms in the last 30 days. They are also four times likelier to use Tumblr than straight males in the same age group.

Diversity and Inclusion Champion is one of the categories at this year’s Marketing Week Masters of Marketing awards, taking place on 3 October. Entries are now open. To find out more visit

Hide Comments2 Show Comments
  • Jason Chastain 5 Apr 2017 at 3:51 pm

    Much to the dismay of progressive socialists, the LGBTQ radical agendas in headlines each day are not embraced by a huge share of the world. Many a company now has paid the price of stupidity of inserting politics into business. Target, Kellogg’s, Macy’s, Starbucks, etc. The smart move is not to go there. Just make ads that work and don’t overthink how to inset politics into business.

  • Oliver 13 Apr 2017 at 3:05 pm

    A real sign of the times. Everyone constantly wanting to be involved, included and represented. Minorities need to remember that they are that – a minority, and they will probably be represented that way.

    You don’t see the white community in Nigeria complaining that all the adverts contain black people.

    That said, when it comes to the LGBT community, how can they feel under-represented? It’s just as easy to assume that any man or woman in an advert is straight as it is that they are gay.

    Those that feel underrepresented in the LGBT community simply assume that the people in adverts are straight, leading to their complaints.

    I’m not saying minorities are any less important – not whatsoever, everyone should have equal rights – but the gay community makes up 3.8% of America; do they honestly expect to be in thousands of adverts every year? If they do, they need a reality check.

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