Commercial Closet Association Merges With GLAAD

Database, Assets Will Be Part of Advertising Media Program

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NEW YORK ( -- After a 12-year run, Commercial Closet Association is ending life as a stand-alone organization as it merges with gay-rights media powerhouse GLAAD.

Whereas the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, founded in 1985, historically has focused its educational and outreach efforts on the broader media, CCA's efforts were focused specifically on ad agencies and marketers. CCA was founded by former Ad Age staffer Michael Wilke in 1996 and became an official nonprofit in May of 2001. Mr. Wilke will be leaving the organization. He could not be reached for comment.

Images in Advertising
As part of its mission, CCA hosted the Commercial Closet Images in Advertising Awards, which honored progressive and positive portrayals of gay culture in advertising (and, some years, shamed offensive work as well). It also built an online collection of more than 4,000 ads (print and video) that portray gay lifestyles or imagery.

CCA's work will be integrated into GLAAD's new Advertising Media Program. "Our work will become the basis for their advertising-media program," said Anthony Cirone, president of the CCA board of directors.

In a statement, GLAAD President Neil G. Giuliano said, "Advertising is woven through every form of media and impacts awareness and understanding of the LGBT community. ... We are excited about this new opportunity to expand the impact of GLAAD's culture-changing work and build upon the trailblazing work of CCA as we launch our Advertising Media Program."

Six months in the making
Specific details of the merger have not been worked out. It's unknown at this time if the award show will survive or how many of CCA's 10-member board will be asked to join the GLAAD board.

The merger has been in the works for more than six months. It came about after CCA began a round of self-examination to seek for opportunities to growth. Mr. Cirone spoke only of how the two groups efforts will complement one another and didn't speak of financing.

"This integration felt like a logical step," said Mr. Cirone. "We believe this move will enhance the work of both organizations, create a truly integrated approach to our media advocacy work and use community resources to their greatest advantage."

Those community resources may have been stretched a little thin as of late. Even in good times, fundraising for CCA may have been a challenge due to the perceived overlaps with GLAAD. A recession and fundraising efforts to battle California's Proposition 8 -- though those developments happened after merger talks began -- likely didn't make things any easier.
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