LGBT Brands: 5 Questions With Ted Marzilli, YouGov BrandIndex

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As 2017 Pride Month gets underway and brands show their support (or not) for their LGBT customers and employees, YouGov BrandIndex released its fourth annual ranking of the best-perceived brands by LGBT consumers in the US, as well as those brands that have boosted their perception in the last 12 months.

All 1,500-plus brands in the YouGov BrandIndex universe were measured with the company’s Buzz score, which asks respondents, “If you’ve heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word of mouth, was it positive or negative?” The results were filtered for respondents who identified themselves as lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgender.

The results: Amazon regained the top spot as this year’s best-perceived brand by consumers who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgender, while Tesla, which debuted in the #1 position last year by a wide margin, dropped to #35.

The most notable newcomer to the top 10 this year is Dawn, which moved up from #23 last year to #5 this year. In April, the P&G-owned dishwashing liquid won kudos for featuring a transgender mother in an ad for its #RealMoms campaign.

Both PBS and Netflix moved up to take second and third place respectively in the Top 10. New to the top 10 this year: Toyota (up from #45), the afore-mentioned Dawn (up from #23) and Aleve (up from #13).

For more insights, we spoke with YouGov BrandIndex CEO Ted Marzilli.

brandchannel: Ted, let’s start with Dawn breaking into the top 10—what do you think is behind that?

Ted Marzilli / YouGov BrandIndexTed Marzilli: Dawn has always been an envelope-pusher with their “Real Beauty” campaign, so continuing that tradition, they featured a transgender grad student in their latest “real mom” spot. It is the only top 10 brand to have made the biggest gains in either our Buzz score (“If you’ve heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word of mouth, was it positive or negative?”) or Ad Awareness since last year. In the case of Dawn, it appeared on both lists.

bc: The top 10 brands that made the biggest perception gains with LBGT consumers since last June are, in order: Volkswagen, Lyft, Subway, McDonald’s, Southwest, BP, Dawn, Comcast/Xfinity, GM and Spectrum. What factors helped them?

Marzilli: It’s really a mix of things, as ‘gainers’ lists usually are. Volkswagen, Subway, BP, Comcast/Xfinity and GM are all brands rebounding from recent challenges. Spectrum is the new Time Warner Cable moniker since its merger with Charter, so it seems to be helping change perception of a company with a reputation for lackluster customer service. McDonald’s launched a gay-friendly ad in Taiwan in the past year that became a viral sensation.

bc: Do lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgender brand preferences differ from the mainstream based on how they perceive a brand’s actions?

Marzilli: I don’t know if there is any real magic formula to determine that. I don’t think it’s a matter of taste as really this: gay men and women (like all of us) generally like to see themselves depicted in mainstream advertising. As our press release states,

“Compared to the perception gainers, which have a few brands in common between demographics, ad awareness among brands between LGBT and general populations is remarkably similar and perhaps not unexpected: most likely because they all have large ad budgets aiming to reach as many people as possible. Those brands include GEICO, Verizon, AT&T, McDonald’s, T-Mobile, Subway and Progressive. Three brands on the LGBT top 10 but not on the other are Sprint, DirecTV, and Target. Even the biggest gainers in ad awareness have substantial crossover: Blue Apron, Uber, Lyft, Trivago, Clorox, and Sprint.The three brands which were on LGBT’s top 10 biggest gainers in ad awareness, but NOT on the general population one: Sling TV, Stella Artois and Farmers Insurance.”

bc: What surprised you most in this year’s Index?

Marzilli: This may be amusing but it certainly is realistic: the brands which have the most ad awareness for both the LGBT and general populations are remarkably similar. Both demos are bombarded by the same brands enough that they recall them with ease: insurance, mobile phones and fast food.

bc: Can you foresee a time when an LGBT Index won’t be necessary because promoting diversity and equality will become the norm?

Marzilli: I believe it will always be necessary since the LGBT community is a demographic in its own right, as much as parents, minorities and millennials.


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