Ad Week | 14234
“Tucked in the glossy pages of JCPenney’s 2012 Father’s Day catalog was the kind of happy family scene one would expect to find there—only this particular photo featured a real-life same-sex couple, Cooper Smith and Todd Koch of Dallas, having a playful moment with their kids. At a time when gay marriage has been sanctioned in a dozen U.S. states (but not Texas) and in countries from Argentina to New Zealand, one would hardly think the shot indecorous. But the howls began almost immediately, with one conservative group charging the retailer with “promoting sin in their advertisements.” It wasn’t Penney’s first foray into this territory. The 111-year-old chain had already raised the hackles of the morality police for a similar ad portraying lesbian moms and for enlisting Ellen DeGeneres as a spokesperson. In the wake of the gay dads ad, Penney’s stood firm, releasing a statement that said: “We want to be a store for all Americans,”
Of course gay artists have always worked in advertising – and their adverts have always had some appeal to gay viewers.
“Commercial artist J.C. Leyendecker, whose illustrations for brands like Arrow shirts and Interwoven socks in the ’20s and ’30s influenced the sartorial tastes of millions of American men — few of whom knew Leyendecker was gay. In retrospect, he hardly seems to have hidden the fact. His work represents a stereotypically homoerotic world of crew teams, lifeguards and hunky playboys, many of them modeled after Leyendecker’s young lover, Charles Beach. The ads drip with equal parts sweat and sexual innuendo. Tod Ruhstaller, curator of the Haggin Museum in Stockton, Calif., which houses the largest collection of Leyendecker’s work, ventures that the artist “was insinuating part of himself into his work—pushing the envelope, but very gently. He [also] had the ability to create an image that, depending on the observer and context, could be interpreted differently.””
Marky Mark | Calvin Klein | 14235