Postmates, Burger King, Dr Pepper and other brands have released commercials with “top” and “bottom” gay sex references as part of Pride Month advertising campaigns that are worrying some LGBTQ advocates.
The sexualized advertising is a startling pivot for a month when commercials traditionally have emphasized rainbows and same-sex couples embracing each other, Matt Lavietes reported Monday for NBC News.
In a narrated video commercial for its new “bottom-friendly” food menu in New York City and Los Angeles, Uber-owned Postmates depicts a harness-clad eggplant as a “top” and a peach-wearing jockstrap underwear as a “bottom.”
The commercial emphasizes the foods that a “bottom” can eat while preparing for anal intercourse.
“If you’re a top, it seems like you can eat whatever you want,” social media influencer Rob Anderson says in the ad’s narration. “But if you’re a bottom, you’re expected to starve? Not this Pride.”
Bob Witeck, president of LGBT marketing firm Witeck Communications, told NBC he finds the new sexualized ads “unusual” and “problematic.”
“Sexualizing any marketing campaign in this way is a risk,” Mr. Witeck said. “But doing so to target LGBTQ consumers has greater risk because it overly sexualizes same-sex attraction in ways that we’ve been trying to normalize in many ways.”
In a statement shared with NBC, Postmates argued that its Pride commercial is “destigmatizing” gay sex.
“The video comically demonstrates the diversity of the LGBTQIA+ community while sharing some information that is often omitted from traditional sexual education,” Postmates said in an email. “Sex education, and specifically queer sex education, shouldn’t be stigmatized.”
Burger King, Dr Pepper and toilet paper company Cottonelle commercials have all made subtle references to anal intercourse in the past few years.
A 2018 Dr Pepper ad featured three images of its canned soda playing on the sexual preferences of gay and bisexual men: the top of the can labeled “aTop,” the bottom of the can labeled “Bottom” and a full view of the can labeled “Verse.”
One year later, a Cottonelle ad for flushable wipes featured an image of an “eggplant” emoji, often used in the gay community to symbolize a penis, with the message: “Happy Pride. Our Flushable Wipes will give you that just-showered feeling so you can keep the love going.”
This month, viral Twitter posts sparked LGBT backlash against Burger King’s commercial for a new “Pride Whopper” in Austria, which comes with either “two equal” top buns or bottom buns.
In an apology last week, advertising agency Jung von Matt Donau said it didn’t consult with the LGBTQ community “well enough” before creating the ad.
Matt Wagner, vice president of client relations at the LGBTQ marketing firm Target 10, said the commercials could fuel conservative criticism of gay men and transgender women.
“We’re being called ‘groomers’ and ‘pedophiles,’ and you’re going to create a campaign about topping and bottoming? Read the room,” Mr. Wagner told NBC News.
• Sean Salai can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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