Commercial closet honors NFL team for gay-friendly print ad

By Cyd Zeigler jr.

The San Francisco 49ers won an award Monday night at the Commercial Closet Association’s Images in Advertising Awards. Commercial Closet advocates for advertising that respects the diversity of all, specifically gender identity/expression and sexual orientation, for a more accepting society and better business results. The annual event honors organizations and businesses that have "best demonstrated inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in mainstream print, broadcast and Internet advertising campaigns over the past year."The 49ers won the award for Outstanding Diversity/Journal Ad (appearing in gay media) for a print ad that ran in the GLAAD Media Awards books at the group’s various dinners around the country in 2007. Under a black & white photo of a line of 49ers’ football helmets, the ad notes that the 49ers are “proud supporters of the 18th Annual GLAAD Media Awards.”
“What I responded to was that it was by a sports team and rather unexpected in today’s climate,” said Mike Wilke, founder executive director of Commercial Closet Association. Wilke and the CCA board of governors together choose the nominees and winners of the awards.
“The San Francisco 49ers are proud of our fan outreach to the LGBT community,” Lisa Lang, vice-president of communications for the San Francisco 49ers, said in a taped acceptance speech; No one from the 49ers were able to accept the award in person due to the start of training camp. “In addition to our sponsorship of the GLAAD Media Awards dinner, we are also proud sponsors of the San Francisco Pride Parade. And our 49ers Foundation financially supports the San Francisco LGBT Center. Each year, the owners of the San Francisco 49ers, over the past four seasons, have created a special LGBT fan appreciation event in San Francisco.”
The 49ers are also the only team in the NFL known to offer same-sex domestic partner benefits to their employees, a policy the team instituted in 1997.
This is the second straight year that a sports entity was recognized by Commercial Closet. Last year, ESPN was honored for an ad in Diversity Inc. magazine inviting gays to apply for jobs at the Worldwide Leader in Sports.

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