GLAAD: Super Bowl commercials showed more LGBTQ representation, but still fell short

The Starry 2024 Super Bowl NFL football spot.
The Starry 2024 Super Bowl NFL football spot.
PepsiCo via AP

This year’s Super Bowl in Las Vegas saw a marked increase in commercials with queer representation, but brands relied more on white spokespersons and often shied away from opportunities to include explicit LGBTQ storylines, according to GLAAD, an LGBTQ media monitoring and advocacy group.

“Consumers have clearly communicated a desire for multi-dimensional and realistic representation for LGBTQ people,” Meghan Bartley, GLAAD’s senior director of agencies, brands, and engagement, said in a written statement. GLAAD tracked the data as part of the organization’s Visibility Project, which is a partnership with Procter & Gamble to monitor LGBTQ representation in advertising.

Among the LGBTQ individuals who starred in the commercials included Benito Skinner and Heidi N’ Closet for e.l.f.; Kate McKinnon for Hellman’s; Dan Levy for; Aubrey Plaza for Mountain Dew; Cardi B for NYX; Drew Barrymore for Paramount+; and Ice Spice for Starry.

Not all of those commercials, though, came with more intentional LGBTQ themes, which means some viewers likely did not even notice the representation. GLAAD particularly commended Volkswagen for showing overt praise for marriage equality and e.l.f. for featuring a drag artist. 

“While the NFL proudly states football is for everyone, advertisers this year did not reflect that reality during commercial breaks,” GLAAD CEO Kate Ellis. said. “Brands like Volkswagen that move beyond merely featuring an LGBTQ celebrity, and brands featuring intersectional representation ofLGBTQ people as well as other diverse communities will win out in the long run. Over one in five members of Gen Z are LGBTQ and more than half are self-described allies. Super Bowl advertisers are missing out on a major opportunity to attract the next generation of employees and consumers.”

This year’s Super Bowl, however, improved from last year when there were only four ads featuring LGBTQ inclusion, according to GLAAD.

“Brands like Volkswagen this year and McDonald’s the previous [year] who lean into storytelling are listening to their consumers and not allowing anti-LGBTQ narratives to sway what they know to be true: LGBTQ inclusion is good for business and good for the world,” Ellis said. “We thank Volkswagen for raising the bar for other brands by creating visibility for our community even as extremists push back on our existing rights.”

During the week leading up to the Super Bowl, GLAAD and the NFL teamed up for the third “A Night of Pride” event at Caesars’ Palace to encourage greater inclusion in the sports world. Attendees included Ellis, former NFL player RK Russell, and others.