Selling Out: A Reception Analysis of Select Coming Out Commercials

ABSTRACT

Buensuceso, A. Y. B. (2019). Selling Out: A Reception Analysis of Select Coming Out Commercials. Unpublished Undergraduate Thesis, University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication.

This study used Schroder's multidimensional model of mass media reception to examine what meanings gay men, bisexual men, and heterosexual cisgender audiences generate from select coming out ads in the Philippines—Smart's Break Down Barriers and Welcome Change ad and Bench's How Long Can You Keep a Secret ad. The advent of these LGBTQ-themed ads anchored on the struggle of coming out motivated me to explore the potential of gay advertising to be used for "non-purchase based and socially oriented reasons (Tsai, 2004)." Moreover, this research also veered away from studying gays as a "dream market (Greenhill, 2011)" and instead studied them as audiences.

In this research, I interviewed fifteen viewers to see how their readings of the two ads counter, maintain, or promote homophobia. On one hand, the ads only reaffirmed the heterosexual informants' positive views about gays, but did not change the way they treated the community. On the other hand, the gay and bisexual informants were encouraged to open up and to come out. Majority of the informants recognized that the universe in the ads was far from their reality and that ads had a primary purpose to sell. They knew that promoting any advocacy was just a secondary goal. These hindered some of them from believing in the genuineness of the brands to promote diversity and inclusivity.

Keywords: Coming Out, Media, Gay Advertising, Homophobia, Audience Reception

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