Political issues in advertising polysemy: The case of gay window advertising

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


This study draws on minority consumers' interpretations of purposefully polysemic commercials to explore political issues in the consumption of advertising, and highlights the sociopolitical role of niche-targeted advertising as a powerful cultural institution in informing and defining identities. The study focusses on how lesbian, gay male, and bisexual consumers make sense of gay-oriented, yet strategically polysemic, gay window commercials. Findings suggest that participants understood these messages through the lens of their unique subcultural sensitivity and in relation to their closeted experience and consciousness of marginalization. The political meanings of niche-targeted advertising are accentuated as these minority consumers negotiate the cultural tensions of their subcultural identity and their struggle between seeking subcultural validation and seeking mainstream assimilation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-62
Number of pages22
JournalConsumption Markets and Culture
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2012


  • gay advertising
  • minority consumer
  • polysemy
  • subcultural identity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Anthropology
  • Marketing
  • Social Psychology


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