The UK-based gay magazine Attitude has announced that it is no longer accepting ads from “adult” businesses, including the gay cruising website and mobile app squirt.org.
Squirt is operated by Pink Triangle Press, which also publishes Xtra.
The decision came as a shock to Squirt’s marketing department, which had been advertising in Attitude since 2009. Squirt was only informed of the decision March 9, when new artwork the company submitted for an ad was rejected.
“Unfortunately we can no longer accept adult advertising and are unable to carry this advert,” wrote Andy Goddard, Attitude’s group advertising manager, in an email to Squirt.
Goddard later clarified that the magazine is attempting to woo more mainstream sponsors by banishing the adult ads.
“The decision to remove adult adverting certainly wasn’t taken lightly as it counted for a fair proportion of our advertising revenues but it was felt that if Attitude ever wanted to become a ‘coffee table’ lifestyle product then we really had no choice,” Goddard wrote.
“We understand that calling a phone-line or going onto an adult website is very much the readers choice but unfortunately this wasn’t something that lifestyle brands took on board and therefore they refused to use Attitude for their advertising campaigns. The only way therefore for Attitude to win this business was to remove adult adverting,” he wrote.
Goddard did not respond to an email from Xtra before press time.
Jeffrey Freeman, Squirt’s web marketing manager, says that the decision is unfortunate, but the magazine has a right to choose its sponsors.
“While the likes of adult advertisers like Squirt provided steady ad revenue to outfits like Attitude, they clearly calculated they could chase some mainstream business they would not have been able to with an adult-themed advertising section,” he says.
As Britain is home to several competing gay magazines, Freeman says Squirt’s ad budget will be reinvested in more adult-friendly magazines to reach the British market.
“In Britain we currently have ads in Midlands Zone, Boyz, Gay Times, GCN (Ireland), Gscene and QX Men. While the UK media market is intensely competitive, it is, nonetheless, probably the strongest media market for print in the English-speaking world,” Freeman says.
Earlier this year, OutWords magazine in Winnipeg announced a similar decision to ban advertising of adult businesses.
Freeman says opportunities for advertising gay cruising services in print have shrunk in the past few years as the recession swallowed regional gay newspapers across North America. Some other gay magazines, including Out and The Advocate, are operated by companies that also operate hookup sites, so they won’t take ads from Squirt, he says. It’s a similar situation with Canadian publications In Toronto and Outlooks, which are owned by a company that operates the relationship service Preferred Partners. They won’t take ads from their competition either, Freeman says.