NEW YORK, February 26—Recent research by Harris Interactive and Washington-based communications consultancy Witeck-Combs found that the 15 million self-identified gay and lesbian consumers in the U.S. spend about $450 billion annually—about the same amount as the country’s 33 million Latinos—which makes them an increasingly attractive target market for companies that might once have been hesitant about reaching out to the gay community.

The healthy economic muscle and the gay and lesbian market was one factor that led Edelman Public Relations Worldwide to launch its Diversity Solutions division last year—the group also targets the African-American and Hispanic communities—and now the new practice is partnering with Absolut vodka to promote a new advertising campaign that salutes GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

The ad—the first in Absolut’s long-running and critically acclaimed series to recognize a not-for-profit organization—celebrates a 20-year partnership between Absolut (marketed in the U.S. by Seagram) and GLAAD. The ad plays off a former Absolut Citron ad, which showed a lava lamp in the shape of the Absolut bottle. The new ad replaces the “lava blobs” floating in the lamp with a rendered version of the GLAAD logo.

Absolut placed its first ad in the gay magazine The Advocate in 1981, and 12 years ago Absolut became the founding sponsor of the GLAAD media awards, recognizing the importance of GLAAD’s role in the fair and accurate reporting of and thought leadership in the gay and lesbian community. The ad is the brand’s first foray into cause-related marketing.

According to Edelman’s Hector Alvarez, surveys show that “89 percent of gays and lesbians will go out of their way to buy a brand that supports their community. They are brand-loyal consumers.”
Cathy Renna, news media director for New York-based GLAAD, said the ad “is a reflection of the longstanding relations” between her organization and Absolut. “They have been with us and with the gay and lesbian community for years. I think what Absolut has realized is that it is making a good business decision and supporting good work. And the gay and lesbian community has exercised its appreciation by its loyalty. I wouldn’t buy anything but Absolut.”