NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Less than two weeks before the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation will host its first Advertising Media Program event, the board of directors of the Commercial Closet Association have announced the closing of the organization.
The Commercial Closet was a nonprofit organization founded in 2001 by Michael Wilke, a former reporter for Advertising Age. The organization provided training and best practices on the representation of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community. In November, GLAAD announced a merger with Commercial Closet that resulted in the departure of Mr. Wilke, who learned of his removal from AdAge.com's initial coverage of the story.
As a result of the Commercial Closet's closing, the board will turn over the group's non-financial assets to GLAAD, including its name, training materials, online assets and its extensive library of over 4,000 ads.
Rashad Robinson, GLAAD's senior director of media programs, will oversee the GLAAD Advertising Media Program, with a launch event to be held May 18 at New York's Alvin Ailey Dance Studio. The event will honor Levi's and Wells Fargo for their commitment to LGBT-inclusive advertising. Levi's will be recognized for commercials such as "Change," a 2007 commercial produced with two different endings to reach gay and straight audiences, as well as other campaigns such as "Support of Gay Marriage," "Inside Out" and the recent "Logo Unbuttoned." Levi Strauss & Co. also became the first Fortune 500 company to extend full benefits to the same-sex domestic partners of its employees.
Wells Fargo will be recognized for its consistent support of the LGBT community as one of the first financial institutions to reach out with targeted advertising and sponsorship of LGBT causes and organizations.
Mr. Robinson said GLAAD will host an additional Advertising Media Awards ceremony for LGBT on Sept. 14 in New York.
"We have an extensive history of fighting defamation in this area, and an opportunity to be much more proactive," Mr. Robinson said. "We want to not just honor and recognize, but call out the problematic images in advertising, and work hand in hand with advertisers as they seek to engage the community but also promote images that are diverse."
GLAAD President Neil Giuliano added in a statement, "Words and images matter and can shatter stereotypes. Fair, accurate and inclusive media images prove that we are connected through common, human experiences. And these are images that we -- and advertisers -- have a responsibility to share."
But GLAAD will still wag its finger at the advertisers who don't represent the LGBT community fairly. Carmax, a Virginia-based used-car company, recently pulled ads in which a straight man accidentally flirts with another man as "not smart" after GLAAD contacted the company's PR executives to remove the spots from TV and the company's website.
"Like a lot of corporations we've worked with, like Snickers and others, it's always about reaching out and informing the corporation when they make mistakes and giving them the option to change things," Mr. Robinson said. "We've definitely seen a shift in the number of corporations who've reached out to us wanting to find ways to be more inclusive, but the quality and quantity of ads that both include images and speak directly to our community can definitely be improved."