How Religiosity Affects Attitudes Toward Brands That Utilize LGBTQ-Themed Advertising

Journal of Business Ethics:1-26 (forthcoming)
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Abstract

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ) inclusion in advertising is important from a marketing ethics perspective and many brands have implemented marketing campaigns that feature LGBTQ-related themes. However, certain segments of society, such as some (but not all) religious consumers, are resistant to LGBTQ-themed advertisements. Does religiosity undermine or enhance support for brands that use these types of advertisements? This research aims to answer this question and reports the findings of two studies that examine the role of religiosity in relation to consumers’ responses to LGBTQ-themed advertising. The results show that, among the various religious orientations, intrinsic religiosity generally leads to negative attitudes for brands that use LGBTQ themes in advertisements. Feelings of disgust mediate these effects. However, not all forms of religiosity are detrimental to the efficacy of LGBTQ-themed advertising. Quest religiosity leads to positive attitudes for brands that use these types of advertisements. Furthermore, the negative impact of intrinsic religiosity on consumers’ responses to LGBTQ-themed advertising can be mitigated by portraying gay and lesbian individuals in inspiring roles in advertisements. Such ‘inspirational’ LGBTQ advertisements generate feelings of awe leading to positive brand attitudes among both intrinsic religiosity-oriented consumers and quest religiosity-oriented consumers. Hence, the findings provide managerial insights on how to develop LGBTQ-themed advertisements that promote inclusivity, are consistent with societal trends of greater acceptance of sexual orientation diversity, and concurrently appeal to both intrinsic religiosity-oriented consumers and quest religiosity-oriented consumers.

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