Minneapolis Agencies Speak Out Against State Marriage Amendment

Adland Makes Business Case for Gay Marriage

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Minneapolis agencies are voicing their outrage about a proposed amendment to the state's constitution. The amendment, if passed, would define marriage as being between one man and one woman. The amendment wouldn't make gay marriage illegal, but it would effectively bar gay couples from legally marrying.

Some agencies are approaching the amendment from a business perspective, largely arguing that the passing of such an amendment would make it difficult to recruit talent to the city, especially talent from outside Minnesota. Those in the agency world have created TV spots, videos, print ads and social-media campaigns opposing the measure. Industry vets even organized an event in October called "Say yes to voting no," which raised $19,000 for Minnesotans United for All Families, a nonprofit dedicated to defeating the amendment.

Pat Fallon , chairman of his eponymous Publicis Groupe agency, earlier this summer wrote an editorial for the Minneapolis Star Tribune arguing against the amendment. "Through the years, many of our best, most productive employees have been gays and lesbians -- not the 10% that is estimated within the general population, but at times upward of 30% of our employees have been gay or lesbian," he wrote. "I have come to believe that the acceptance of gays and lesbians in this community is a recruitment advantage for all of the advertising agencies, technology companies, retailers, designers and other companies whose success depends on creativity. It would be self-defeating for the state's economy to wave a 'You're not welcome' sign in front of this potentially productive workforce by supporting this exclusionary amendment."

Now the agency is promoting two spots it created, which have not aired on TV but live on its YouTube page. Fallon is also urging citizens to vote against the amendment in social media via the #stophatehere hashtag. According to a statement from Fallon , "because Fallon 's efforts to 'give' these commercials to Minnesotans United for All Families were rebuffed, Fallon has decided to share these spots on YouTube and other social-media outlets." A spokeswoman for Fallon did not respond to a request for comment by press time as to why the spots were rebuffed.

Unlike Mr. Fallon 's business-minded column, the spots do rely on emotion. One, called "The Golden Rule," takes a religious angle, while "Haven't We Been Here Before?" takes a civil-rights approach.

Steve Wehrenberg, CEO of Interpublic's Campbell Mithun, told the Star-Tribune in October that he "felt the amendment was anti-business, anti-advertising, and anti-Minnesota from the beginning." The agency, as part of the McCann Worldgroup, doesn't take political stances.

"Minnesota Mean"

Interpublic's Carmichael Lynch, whose president Doug Spong helped organize "Say yes to voting no," took out an ad in Oct. 28's Star Tribune. The copy read: "If you think 3 ft. of snow makes it difficult to recruit, wait until we're known as Minnesota Mean. Like it or not, passing a constitutional amendment that limits the freedom of others to marry will send a very un-Minnesotan message to a lot of talented people across the country & around the world." (Carmichael Lynch isn't part of McCann Worldgroup, so isn't prohibited from such stances.)

Indie shop Zeus Jones created a product -- an orange ring, meant to be worn like a wedding ring -- and website in opposition of the amendment. The agency also asked Twitter users to explain why they're voting no on the amendment using the hashtag #ForAll.

Not just agencies
Some Minneapolis-based marketers have also been speaking out against the measure. Ken Charles, VP-global diversity at General Mills, also argued that the amendment is bad for business. "I am proud to see our company join the ranks of local and national employers speaking out for inclusion. We do not believe the proposed constitutional amendment is in the best interests of our employees or our state economy -- and as a Minnesota-based company we oppose it," he said on the company's website.

Other companies, such as Medtronic, Best Buy, Target and 3M have not taken official stances on the issue, although Medtronic's former CEO, Bill George, has spoken out against the issue, and many of the companies state that they're committed to workplace equality.

UPDATE: The proposed marriage amendment to the Minnesota Constitution fell short of passage and the ban was defeated. However, state law still prohibits gay marriage, so the next step would be signing a bill that would legalize it.

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