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Advertisers slowly roll out ads featuring same-sex couples

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With the legalization of same-sex marriage in Minnesota and 11 other states, advertisers are slowly starting to move in the direction of advertisements featuring same-sex couples, Minnesota Public Radio reports.

UCare health plan -- a nonprofit, community-based health plan serving people in Minnesota and Wisconsin -- started rolling out a new initiative in July with ads on metro buses featuring a real couple.

The ad, which shows the couple holding hand, reads, "Health care that starts with: Kate and Louisa."

"We know we have members who are in the community, and we have prospects out there that we'd like to be UCare members," company marketing director Dan Ness told MPR.

This isn't the first initiative from groups like UCare: The company also started targeting potential lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender customers with television ad featuring a lesbian couple in 2011.

While Target has been marketing same-sex couples in wedding registry ads for years, MPR says the Minneapolis-based retailer wouldn't comment on whether same same-sex couples would be appearing in more mainstream ads.

Other Minnesota companies like General Mills, meanwhile, have been engaging the LGBT community with blog and social media campaigns.

One blog site promotes the company's Lucky Charms cereal brand with gay-friendly rainbows and a gallery of photos featuring same-sex couples.

While advertisers are moving in the direction of appealing to LGBT customers, the chief executive of Carmichael Lynch in Minneapolis tells MPR that it may take several years for same-sex couples to appear regularly in ads.

Mike Lescarbeau said, that we "love to think of ourselves as trailblazers and pioneers, but the fact is particularly as it relates to mainstream products, our responsibility is to reflect the sensibilities of the overall population."

Some ad campaigns ad featuring same-sex couples have backfired.

The Huffington Post reports that Ikea ran an ad featuring a gay couple shopping for dining room table in Washington, D.C., and New York two decades ago -- but was forced to pull the ad after one airing after bomb threats to Ikea stores.

More recently, ad strategist Bob Witech tells MPR, the advocacy group One Million moms boycotted JCPenney and Urban Outfitters last year after the retailers featured same-sex couples in their catalogues.

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