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Miami Agency Enjoys Sweet Spot Of Gay Advertising


Dorn Martell doesn't act surprised to hear gay culture is hot right now after a perfect storm of recent events from legal rulings on same-sex marriage to headlines of professional athletes coming out.

"We were 'out before it was in,'" said Martell, referring to both his company's long-time niche in the advertising industry and the title of a current TV ad campaign for Key West, South Florida's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) mecca since the 1950s.

Martell is the chief creative director at Tinsley Advertising, a boutique agency founded in 1974 by Sandy Tinsley. Clients include The Florida Keys & Key West, City Furniture, Capital Bank, the University of Miami and nonprofit Rainforest Flow.

He said the TV ad that's getting so much attention isn't unique in the grand scheme of Tinsley-produced advertising for Key West, a gay friendly destination for years.

Credit fla-keys.com/gaykeywest
A Tinsley-produced print ad for Key West targeting lesbian women.

"We recognize that there is a trend in advertising and media today to recognize gay consumers," Martell said. "But our spot points out that in Key West, we were out before it was in.

"In fact Tinsley ran it's first gay-targeted ad in 1991. We put an openly gay couple in a mainstream media spot (ad) in 2002 and have won tons of awards for our efforts."

The Key West ads are part of Tinsley's more general campaign for the Florida Keys.

Since 1998 the Florida Keys and Key West have focused on advertising taglines that mean different things to different people, but still capture a central theme of "live and let live," Martell said.

The current Keys campaign is being funded by a $.04 bed tax levied by the Monroe County Tourist Development Council.

Credit fla-keys.com/gaykeywest
A Tinsley ad for Key West targeting gay men.

Martell says Key West uses a combination of niche and mainstream media to reach the general population of LGBT Americans, including cable TV networks and satellite radio.

Starting in 2012, the "Out Before It Was In" spot has been airing nationally on Viacom's LOGO network, Comcast's "Bravo" channel and during the hit TV show "Glee" on Fox.

"Everyone has gone kooky over digital advertising and social media, and we have embraced these new mediums too, said Martell. "But TV still rules.

"When 'Out Before It Was In' ran on 'Glee,' Twitter lit up. People posted it on Facebook and everyone was talking about it. We love it when all the mediums come together."