Ensnared in a gay health controversy: a comparative study in responding to issue activism


  • Tony Jaques

    Corresponding author
    1. RMIT University, Media and Communication, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
    • Issue Outcomes P/L, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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Correspondence to: Tony Jaques, Issue Outcomes P/L, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

E-mail: tjaques@issueoutcomes.com.au


This case study describes competing activist campaigns triggered by a provocative poster promoting safe gay sex, which became one of the most complained-about outdoor advertisements in Australia. Drawing on issue management theory and personal interviews, the study analyses the contrasting strategies followed by two outdoor advertising companies caught up in the controversy, where family value advocates failed to consistently present their objections, whereas supporters of the same-sex equality effectively mobilised traditional and social media to frame the case as advertising free speech. One company held firm against issue activism, whereas the other wavered in its response and suffered reputational damage. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.