GLAAD Takes Over Commercial Closet, Launches New Advertising Program
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation has added another mission to its media advocacy work. GLAAD kicked off its new Advertising Media Program at a reception in New York City on Monday night.
The new program is actually GLAAD’s adoption of the ‘Commercial Closet’ – a program begun in 1997 by journalist Mike Wilke to monitor the representation of gay people in broadcast and print advertising.
Commercial Closet board vice president Stephanie Blackwood says that last year, with fundraising on the decline, the board figured the only way to continue the group’s mission was to fold and give the assets — including a website and some four-thousand videos — to GLAAD.
Blackwood: “The board started discussing the possibility of finding a home for Commercial Closet that would shelter it and provide it with infrastructure and help it grow — grow its influence and grow its reach.”
GLAAD President Neil Giuliano says advertising had always been Commerical Closet’s territory. But now he says GLAAD can add its own advantages of size and scale to all of Commercial Closet’s assets.
Giuliano: “So now we’re able to get into that work, add our expertise with regard to media advocacy, anti-defamation work, build the relationships with the corporate community. And hopefully take all of this amazing opportunity to have influence on the people who have influence, with advertising.”
Giuliano says he hopes to grow the Advertising Media Program within three-to-five years to a handful of staffers in New York and L-A, and a budget up to half a million a year — depending on fundraising from corporate partners.
One asset the new program won’t have is the man who created it. Mike Wilke says GLAAD offered him a job running it last year — then withdrew the offer without explanation. He says his relationship with his old board is “ugly,” but that he’d be open to consulting with GLAAD on the new, old project