A new Valentine’s Day ad for Necco’s Sweethearts features Jack Evans and George Harris, a gay Dallas couple of 55 years who became the first in the city to receive their marriage license last June.
“Jack and George,” as they’re affectionately known, celebrated their 55th anniversary Tuesday, and they shared their story as part of Necco’s’ “sweet stories” contest to mark the 150th anniversary of Sweethearts.
“We spent the day with them in their home and got to know them,” Necco CEO Michael McGee told AdWeek. “We just kind of rolled the camera and let them tell their story. When you see how they interact with each other — their strength, their genuineness, their commitment to each other — they are just so endearing.”
In the ad, George recalls how Jack, who was working as a jewelry salesman, gave him a business card on Jan. 19, 1961.
“I knew when I met Jack that that was who I was looking for, that I’d spent all my life looking for (him), and if that’s not love, I don’t know what is,” George says.
“If he’s not there, I can’t go to sleep. If he’s not around, I don’t know what to do,” Jack adds.
The couple then picks Sweethearts from Jack’s hand saying “Me and You” and “Soulmates.”
Michael Solomon, a professor of marketing at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, told AdWeek it’s still somewhat “risky” to feature gay couples in ads.
“But as we saw with the Cheerios campaign [that challenged traditional definitions of ‘family’] — and Ikea and several others by now — the pros mostly outweigh the cons,” Solomon said. “It’s smart of them to be more inclusive than just the traditional, corny boy-meets-girl scenario. This is how you transform a cheap commodity into a cherished and personal item.”
Robert Passikof, the best-selling author of “Brand Keys,” said although the ad is “touching,” he believes it’s “more expedient” than “innovative” given the size of the LGBT market.
And Rick McHugh, creative director for Hill Holiday, which produced the ad, acknowledged that featuring gay couples is no longer really “such a progressive theme.”
“It’s becoming somewhat mainstream, and that’s a good thing,” McHugh said.
To enter the contest, which has a prize of $5,000, go here.
Watch Jack and George’s ad, as well as their wedding ceremony in June, below.