The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), the nation's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) media advocacy and anti-defamation organization, honored the best in LGBT-inclusive advertising, marketing and public relations at the 2011 GLAAD Amplifier Awards on Tuesday night. The awards, held at The Altman Building in New York City, were an official event of Advertising Week and were presented by Omnicom Group, and presented in part by DRAFTFCB, Publicis Groupe and ROKK Vodka.
The GLAAD Amplifier Awards celebrated and honored those individuals and campaigns in advertising and marketing industries that presented fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the LGBT community and issues that affect the lives of LGBT people.
RuPaul's Drag Race Season 3 contestant Manila Luzon hosted the event and was joined by several special guests and honorees including R&B singer and former contestant on The Voice Frenchie Davis, who provided a stellar musical performance.
Other special guests included: Tabatha Coffey (Tabatha's Salon Take Over), Wilson Cruz, Christine Ebersole, Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge (The Fabulous Beekman Boys), recording artist Wynter Gordon, Sonja Morgan (Real Housewives of New York City), New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Anthony Rapp, MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts and Ramona Singer (Real Housewives of New York City).
A host of companies and organizations were honored for their inclusive portrayals of LGBT people in advertisements and marketing strategies. Award recipients included: Google's television ad for Chrome "The Web is What You Make of It: It Gets Better Project," GE Monogram's print ad "So What's Cooking in the Kitchen," MetLife's print ad "Not All Ifs in Life are the Same," American Airlines' outdoor campaign "Beach Towel," Wells Fargo's print ads for LGBT financial advisors and the "I Love My Boo" campaign by GMHC, New York's first HIV/Aids non-profit organization.
For a complete list of the award recipients and images of the ads, please visit: www.glaad.org/amplifierawards/awardrecipients.
During the event, MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts presented Allstate with the Corporate Responsibility award for its long-standing public commitment to the LGBT community. Allstate Marketing Director Georgina Flores accepted the award and said that it was "...for all the LGBT Allstate Agents and their LGBT customers."
Chief Commercial Officer for American Airlines, Virasb Vahidi, presented Bob Witeck and Wesley Combs of Witeck-Combs Communications with the Public Visibility Award in recognition of their careers advocating for LGBT inclusion in all forms of media and marketing.
In his speech, Combs said, "Bob and I have built our business on the same foundational principle that GLAAD's work is based on: 'Words and images matter.' They play a critical role maintaining a laser focus on how LGBT people are represented in the media, in ads and characterized by the public as diverse as politicians and professional athletes." In acknowledging the creation of Witeck-Combs Communications and its continued mission of visibility for LGBT people, Combs said, "The scarcity of openly LGBT celebrities, elected officials, TV characters, or positive representations in ads was a driving force of what kept us in the closet. Recognizing that our visibility was a pivotal in changing how others perceived us, this became the driving force behind the creation of our business."
Witeck commented on the importance of LGBT visibility in America. "This weekend in Washington, President Obama spoke about a 'Big America' that includes everyone. For all of us, a 'Big America' must also be an authentic America that make us visible, respected and truly valued as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people," said Witeck.
In his remarks, Acting GLAAD President Mike Thompson called on the advertising industry to increase LGBT images in mainstream media: "The advertising industry is premised on the power of persuasion, making it perhaps the most powerful form of media to shape public opinion. I'm going to challenge all of the advertising professionals here tonight to use this persuasive power in the most socially responsible manner, by incorporating positive and inclusive images of the American people in their campaigns."
PHOTO CREDIT: Andrew Werner