Chap is WITNESS’ Office Coordinator and is an LGBT activist serving on several boards including the Stonewall Democratic Club of NYC, Out Astoria, Queens Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee, and Integrity NYC Metro. He also serves as a Provincial Coordinator with Integrity USA for New York, New Jersey, U.S. Virgin Islands, Haiti, and the Convocation of American Churches in Europe.
Why You Should Watch this Video
This video is a good example of the blur between corporate advertising and video advocacy. The content and presentation resembles an advocacy video for marriage equality, yet the intention of the video was to sell a product (a dating site created by fashion company Björn Borg). The message of advertisement is lost to most viewers, and fails as an advertisement. Whether or not the producers intended this video to be an advocacy video for marriage equality or not is unclear. The dating site that this video was intended to advertise failed and has been shut down by Björn Borg.
• Title of Video: Bjorn Borg – Love for All
• Date Created/Posted: Nov 2008
• Length: 1 minute
• Who made it: Brand: Björn Borg (Produces, markets and sells Björn Borg brand clothing, footwear, bags, eyewear and fragrances); Agency: Farfar, Stockholm; Creatives: Farfar; Production Company: Hobby Film, Stockholm; Director: Hobby; DP: Kjell Lagerros; Editor: Gregers; Sound Design: Song: “True Colours” sung by Ane Brun (org: Cindy Lauper)
• Location: Sweden
• Human Rights Issue: Marriage Equality
The goal of the producers was to promote a dating site to people for which marriage equality resonated. It should be noted that the timing of this release was around the Proposition 8 vote wherein proponents of marriage equality successfully overturned marriage equality in California–much of the leadership and rhetoric in Prop 8’s overturn was tied to religious institutions. Additionally, a prominent dating site was under fire for excluding same-sex couples from being members citing religious rhetoric as justification. The producers of this film were most likely cognizant of these issues–especially since the targeted audience rallied around them.
This can be compared to another advertising campaign by Björn Borg called “Fuck for the Future” which utilized a social issue as a vehicle for advertising their products. “Fuck for the Future” coincided with reports that Sweden’s population was actually decreasing due to low birth rates. Again, this messaging was also provocative. Björn Borg placed advertisements in written newspapers around Sweden promoting this “message” as well as their products. The success of this campaign is well documented, making Bjorn Born one of the top clothing designers second to Calvin Klein in Sweden.
Potential clientele in the U.S. who are LGBT or allies—remember this was originally an advertisement to get members to an online dating site. Additionally, LGBT activists involved in marriage equality took the unclear advertisement and ran with it as a message of advocacy.
The use of religious rites, the grooms both being clergy, and the ceremony being performed by a female clergy can be seen as a response to religious conservatives. It can be seen as a tongue-and-cheek response of “irreverence” as well as an advocacy of “acceptance” as seen in more liberal Christian denominations.
The message is that all love should be celebrated, and in this case sanctified by the Christian Church. The message of advertisement is lost to most viewers, and fails as an advertisement. The dating site that this advertisement was intended failed and has been removed by Björn Borg. Whether or not the producers intended this video to be an advocacy video for marriage equality or not is unclear.
This video plays into the viewers preconceived notions and roles in a traditional wedding scene. One sees a male priest, a woman, and a man, as well as a very emotional congregation—it is not until the final kiss that it is revealed that a female priest is marrying two male priests to each other. It is clear that many religious conservatives would be incensed by two gay priests marrying, likely also that it is a female priest officiating.
As this video was used by LGBT activists in the United States to promote marriage equality around the Prop 8 vote, I recommend reviewing the Courage Campaign’s website and looking at their INTENTIONAL promotion of marriage equality in California titled “It Breaks My Heart.”
Join the Conversation
Did you get the message of marriage equality or the message to join a dating website? Can you think of other examples where an advisement end up being video advocacy examples either intentionally or unintentionally? Regarding the issue of marriage equality – does the provocative nature of this video help or hinder the movement?