VW Targets Gays For First Time

In an effort to acknowledge its longtime gay clientele for its support after conducting research on the group’s preferences, Volkswagen is making its first attempt to reach the homosexual community with new print ads from lead agency Arnold.

Photographer John Arsenault shot the Havas shop’s ads in the gay-friendly locations of Provincetown, Mass., Palm Springs, Calif., and Los Angeles. One depicts a Provincetown beach at sunset. Copy in part reads, “This summer, we set out to capture those moments in life when everything gels. When you can be exactly who you are. And express it any way you want.” The work retains VW’s “Drivers wanted” tagline.

“We’ve always recognized the gay community as being an important, treasured part of the VW family,” said John Gasloli, multicultural marketing leader at Volkswagen of America in Auburn Hills, Mich. “We wanted to take the next step.”

VW is following in the footsteps of Subaru and Volvo, both of which have crafted ads targeting gays. This year, gay and lesbian buying power is estimated at about $580 billion, per MarketResearch.com.

“VW has always had a gay following,” said Todd Turner, president of consultancy Car Concepts in Thousand Oaks, Calif. “Why they were so late to embrace their own market is beyond me.”

Ads debut this week in October books of Genre, Out and The Advocate, among others. Web and promotional components broke this month. Gasloli said the budget is $500,000-plus, adding that no TV is planned at this juncture.