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'Queer' Guy Replaces Kirstie Alley in Ads

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Advertising, like TV programming, it seems, is getting more gay, reports The New York Times.

For starters, Kirstie Alley is out as the pitchperson for the Pier 1 retail chain. Replacing her in the company’s $60 million annual ad campaign: Thom Filicia, the decorating expert from “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.”

His commercials begin running on Thursday, says the newspaper. And, likely to make GLAAD (the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) even gladder: Openly gay and lesbian pitch people are appearing in more ads aimed at all demographic groups.

These include such personalities as singers k.d. Lang and Melissa Etheridge, designers Isaac Mizrahi and Todd Oldham, actor John Cameron Mitchell, ex-football player Esera Tuaolo, Felicia’s “Queer Eye” compatriots and one of the executive producer of the series, David Collins, who’s been appearing in American Express ads.

Other companies reportedly jumping onboard include Audi, Cartier, Chili’s, Diageo, Marshall Field’s, General Motors, Target, Volkswagen and Wrigley.

In replacing Alley with Filicia, Phil Schneider, executive vice president for marketing at Pier 1 Imports in Fort Worth, tells The Times that the decorator’s sexual orientation “never really entered into our decision. It was not an issue for us. We used Kirstie because she was well known and well liked, but in Thom’s case, the fact he’s known as an interior designer brings credibility to the message.”

Adding further perspective, Michael Wilke, executive director of Commercial Closet in New York, an organization that studies the portrayals of homosexuals in mainstream advertising, says: “It makes sense for marketers to take advantage of the interest people have in people who are gay. What’s gay is becoming mainstream, but it still retains a bit of an edge.”