Progressive Ads aren’t so “Progressive”

After watching this youtube video of a “gay themed” advertisement for Progressive, it occurred to me that the commercial catered to more stereotypes than it broke. First thing I noticed was that the title of the video was a gay advertisement, yet there is nothing truly “gay” about the clip. We see two men, we only assume to be gay because of their close body language and interaction as their being sold car insurance by Flow, the Progressive lady. First off, we are presented with very stereotypical versions of homosexual men: well dressed, middle-aged, thin white men. Secondly, we are never actually shown or told that these men are homosexuals and not just close friends. Where in a commercial with a heterosexual couple, we might find some talk of commitment to each other or some physical contact, the closest we get to a implication of the men being a couple is that one man taunts that he will not sell back his watch to the other man,  who was forced to give it up in order to afford his car insurance. Wan-Hsiu Sunny Tsai in his article about representation of homosexuality in  advertisements, talks of how advertisements create a “specific definition of gayness” and are often “white,upper-middle-class males”. These statements are most evident in this advertisement as is the idea that even though this is considered (excuse my play on words) a progressive  “gay” ad, the ad really caters most to it heterosexual costumers and how they want to perceive homosexuals and homosexuality, as well dressed white man with no real sexual implications between the men.  Tsai states that these ads adapt to “mainstream standards and accordingly constructs queerness around heteronormative ideologies”.  These heteronormative standards are most evident in this ad targeted at homosexuals.

Wan-Hsiu Sunny Tsai. “Assimilating the Queers: Representations of Lesbians, Gay Men, Bisexual, and Transgender People in Mainstream Advertising.” Advertising & Society Review 11, no. 1 (2010) (accessed July 31, 2012).

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