'Gayest Commercial' Poll Boosts Nonprofit Site

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A contest to determine the "Gayest Gosh Darn Commercial of All Time" on Gay.com and PlanetOut.com helped drive traffic and build awareness for a new Web site, www.commercialcloset.org.

During a 12-day span, the contest drew 18,000 unique visitors to the new site, which was launched about seven weeks ago. PlanetOut Partners, the parent company of Gay.com and PlanetOut.com, has a combined online database of 2.5 million registered users and gets 4.3 million visitors per month.

Commercial Closet, New York, is a nonprofit educational and journalism organization that tracks the portrayal of the gay community in mainstream advertising.

"The project's mission is to spread its research as broadly as possible to the gay community and the world at large," said Mike Wilke, executive director and founder of Commercial Closet. "So as far as that goes, the number of people that Gay.com and PlanetOut.com were able to bring toward the project for information was sizable, and it achieved my goal of exposing a much larger number of people to it."

Visitors to Gay.com and PlanetOut.com from May 21 to June 1 were able to vote for what they thought was the "Gayest Gosh Darn Commercial of All Time." Voters chose from 10 commercials, and those wishing to view the spots were driven to commercialcloset.org.

A European Hyundai commercial that depicted a heterosexual couple in different automobiles, each having an affair with a young man, was voted as the gayest commercial.

Among other corporations with commercials in the contest were Ikea, Gillette and FedEx.

"People really love ads, and gay people especially love ads that target them because gay and lesbian people are hungry for images of themselves in commercials," said Bryce Eberhart, director of communications at PlanetOut Partners, San Francisco.

More than 15,000 people voted in the contest, Eberhart said. PlanetOut.com and Gay.com promoted the contest by co-branding their Web pages, with links to commercialcloset.org and through its e-mail newsletters, he said.

PlanetOut Partners distributes several daily and weekly e-mail newsletters, including PlanetOut.com Daily News, which reaches 750,000 daily subscribers, and Gay.com Member Mail, which is sent to 600,000 weekly subscribers, Eberhart said.

Voters were greeted by a pop-up window that asked people for a tax-deductible donation when they visited the Commercial Closet site. Data on fundraising as a result of polling, however, were not available.

Eberhart said that while the polling offered no immediate marketing benefits for PlanetOut Partners, it helped heighten the awareness of advertising that targets the gay and lesbian market.

PlanetOut Partners' demographic is mostly college-educated males age 18 to 44.

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