They may be a bit late to the party, but Target stores in the U.S. are now selling greeting cards for same-sex marriage, four years after Hallmark started offering same-sex cards to retailers, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
"Target is focused on diversity and inclusivity," spokesperson Molly Snyder tells the paper.
It hasn't always appeared that way, though. Two years ago, Target made a $150,000 campaign donation to a group backing a Republican candidate who opposed same-sex marriage, spurring a backlash from the LGBT community, reports the Daily Mail.
But things are starting to change in the corporate marketing world, says Chris Farias, a partner and creative director of Kitestring Creative Branding Studio in Hamilton, Ontario. He points to the controversy over JC Penney's choice to use Ellen DeGeneres as their company spokesperson as an example.
"They got some really bad backlash," he says. "But they stayed strong and said we support Ellen and we are going to continue to use her as our spokesperson."
Other companies are making a similar statement, says Farias. Kraft's decision last month, to post a photo of an Oreo cookie to their Facebook page with six layers of rainbow-coloured centres instead of the usual white cream filling, may have caused a firestorm of controversy, but their following on Facebook grew substantially from that post.
"These large brands are starting to realize, this isn't going away," he says. "These people are our customers, too, and we have to accept all of our customers."
There is a difference between subtly marketing to the LGTB community and taking a stance on issues like same-sex marriage, says Farias. He's noticed that certain car companies market to the gay community all the time, but it's very subtle.
"If you weren't a gay person, you wouldn't know you were watching a gay person in that commercial. As a gay person, you can spot it."
A subtle glance between two people in an ad, or the way two people interact can signal to the gay community that this brand is inclusive and accepting of the gay community, he claims.
The rainbow Oreo cookie, on the other hand, makes a bold statement.
"It's different because a car brand that is doing that in a commercial is basically saying this is the norm, whereas the Oreo cookie is saying 'we are taking a stance on this.'"
And of course, one could argue their is an obvious financial benefit by marketing to a select audience, regardless of who that niche audience is.
A recent story in Marketing magazine pegs the total before-tax income of the Canadian LGBT community at $98 billion, giving the "the average LGBT person 22 per cent more spending power than the average Canadian."
Watch the video below about an elaborate marriage proposal in the woods with art installations and decorations.