Between the Gay-Straight Binary: Gender and Sexual Identities as Peripheral Cues in Advertising
Date Thesis Awarded
Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only
Bachelors of Arts (BA)
LGBTQ+ representation in advertising media is relatively low, especially for bisexuals (Zivony & Lobel, 2014), due to marketers’ fears of alienating mainstream heterosexual audiences (Ivory, 2019). Groups like gays, bisexuals, lesbians, and even men and women, are subjected to stereotypes based on warmth and competence (Fiske et al., 2002), which could translate to advertisement-related attitudes if product endorsers of such intersecting identities are used in advertising (Kervyn et al., 2012). The present study examines the advertisement-, brand-, and product-related attitudes elicited by product endorsers of varying gender and sexual identities, attitudes shown in previous work to predict purchasing behavior (Diamantopoulos et al., 2017; Ajzen & Fishbein, 1977; Lin, 2011). Study 1 sampled 155 undergraduate college students from an East Coast university in the United States and Study 2 sampled 175 adults across the United States. Participants viewed two advertisements, one featuring a fiction soft drink and one featuring a fictional smartphone, after which participants completed questions indicating their reactions to and evaluations of the advertisement, brand, product, and product endorser. Although product endorsers of varied sexual orientations elicited no significantly different advertisement, brand, or product attitudes, Study 1 demonstrated that purchase intentions for a fictional soft drink product were higher when a man was used as the product endorser, as opposed to a woman. Additionally, numerous moderators were found across both studies demonstrating that factors like warmth and competence perceptions, as well as feelings toward men and women in general, can influence product-related attitudes when an advertisement is presented by an endorser of specific gender and sexual identities. This research contributes to the current understanding of queer stereotypes, and the knowledge could apply to marketers seeking to utilize diverse spokespersons.
Wright, Matthew, "Between the Gay-Straight Binary: Gender and Sexual Identities as Peripheral Cues in Advertising" (2022). Undergraduate Honors Theses. William & Mary. Paper 1766.
Available for download on Wednesday, May 10, 2023
On-Campus Access Only