It must first be stated that this ad comes from Equality, a magazine published by the
Human Rights Campaign (which advocates for equal rights and is pro-LGBT issues). I guess on some level it seems almost insulting to the intelligence of someone to run an ad like this. If the ad ran in a more mainstream media outlet, it might even be glossed over, but in reality the ad works hard on differing levels for American Airlines. On one hand the two men that are most prominent in the ad are most likely a gay couple (given the greater context of where the ad was found) going on vacation. They have their “we’re-on-vacation” flowered pattern shirts on and they’re carrying bags, but the ad is purposely ambiguous. The text below the men informs you that “we are the first and only airline to score 100% on the HRC’s Corporate Equality Index for six years in a row”, but they are far from advocating for homosexuality, promoting equality, or discouraging discrimination in the ad. The ad (although perhaps well intentioned) seems to reach out to the gay community, but only with short alligator arms. If the intent of the ad was to appeal to a gay audience, why are the two men not holding hands (or something else that is not lewd in anyway but reflects the men’s love and/or admiration of one another)?
This advertisement is a grandiose representation of attempting to be liberal while still situating itself in the promotion of conservative social and societal values. All the messages by American Airlines to say, “hey… we’re gay friendly!” are subtlety located in the text, such as “Book now at AA.com/rainbow”. Why can’t homosexual passengers wishing to book a flight simply go to the same web address that everyone wishing to book a flight would go to. I think American Airlines attempts a weak and shameful in road at half-heartedly and laughably trying to get the gay dollar.