Vodka advert sealed with a gay kiss

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The Independent Online

Media Correspondent

Virgin has teamed up with a London bar to create an advertisement that will show a homosexual couple kiss for the first time on British television.

The advertisement for Virgin Vodka will feature on the satellite music channel MTV for three months beginning in March. Later Virgin hopes it will get shown during a late-night slot on Channel 4, possibly after The Girlie Show.

The advertisement jointly promotes The Edge, a busy gay and straight bar in Soho, and Virgin Vodka, which was launched in the London area in November 1994.

It shows 30 seconds of documentary clips from three hours' filming of a busy Friday night at the bar. One shot shows a heterosexual couple kissing and another two-second clip features two men kissing.

Other shots promote the vodka by showing the bar staff pouring from Virgin Vodka bottles and drinkers holding Virgin Vodka glasses.

The advertisement is likely to lead a trend towards overtly gay advertising, following a warm-up of the television viewing market by Brookside and EastEnders, both of which have featured young women having lesbian affairs.

Jackie McQuillan, PR manager for Virgin, said the advertisement had received clearance from the Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre for screening on MTV from next month.

"It is targeted at the 18-to-35-year-old market where the pink pound is very strong. We'd be mad to ignore it," she said. "This is a way of opening up more realistic advertising. If that means showing gay couples than I hope that's the case."

Virgin has a 1.1 per cent share of the national vodka market, according to recent figures. By far the highest share is taken by the cheaper own- label supermarket brands, which together have about 40 per cent.