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Inventory of the Records of The Body Politic & Pink Triangle Press
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Sub ad featuring Martin Duberman, Nov 1978 File dub.jpg 198x132
Martin Duberman puffs TBP
(& causes a small flap)

# 48, Nov 1978


Page 19 / Inventory Series 11

The earliest form of promotion for The Body Politic was exchange ads in other gay and alternative publications, with which TBP also exchanged free subscriptions. Some records of these efforts are included in Series 9, Subscriptions, as is much material on subscription renewals, another major form of promotion. Efforts to secure retail outlets are in Series 10, Distribution.

Some promotional material also appears in Series 25, Posters and artwork. These pieces were often part of larger campaigns, sometimes including stickers meant for lampposts and billboards. (For instance, a "teaser" sticker campaign was done to launch Xtra in 1984.) But I didn't locate much evidence of these campaigns for the 1988 Inventory, making the accession listings below rather thin.

Alive and Kicking sticker. File alive.jpg 140x111
Post-Dec 1977-raid promo sticker
January 1978


Other promo bits are scattered throughout the collection -- as recycled paper, with memos and carbon copies of letters on the back.

Attempts to run ads for TBP in mainstream media often caused contention. [1] In fact, the refusal of major newspapers to carry even small and innocuous classified ads for gay groups and publications became one of the central organizing issues for the gay movement all across Canada in the 1970s. [2] Big media outlets did later (if unintentionally) promote The Body Politic -- in extensive coverage of its legal battles. [3]

Paid promotion (not free exchange ads) to attract subscribers was occasionally done in the glossier gay press -- with generally underwhelming response. [4]

All promotional material for TBP and the Press was produced in-house, designed and written mostly by Merv Walker (up to 1978), Rick Bébout (thereafter) and Gerald Hannon (throughout). We created a vast array of ads for subscriptions, books, volunteer recruitment and donations to the Press. We also did the ads in TBP for The Body Politic Free the Press Fund (see Series 21: Legal defence).

All this work can be seen in the pages of The Body Politic itself -- as can occasional critiques of it: the Nov 1978 subscription ad at the top of this page led to a collective debate reported in the next issue. [5] Ads seeking money directly for the Press (not for its legal defence) are listed on the Fundraising page, as potential snapshots of the Press's financial state over time.

82-019 / 14
Developmental papers and administrative files, 1971-1977 (including files on exchange advertising and exchange subscriptions).

82-024 / 01
Developmental papers on promotional projects and subscription renewal program, 1980-1982.

87-004 / 16
Mentions of The Body Politic in other media, 1978-1986.

  1. See: "Why 8's late," TBP # 8 (Spring 1973), p 5, reporting refusal of the Toronto Star to run a classified and later, through a subsidiary, refusing to print the issue.
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  2. Ad refusals came from newspapers and radio stations in (among many other places) Toronto, Windsor, Vancouver, Ottawa, Saskatoon, Calgary and Mississauga. A 1976 public- service announcement ban by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's radio station in Halifax led to an ongoing campaign against the CBC nationwide.

    A complaint filed in Nov 1974 by the Gay Alliance Toward Equality against the Vancouver Sun, for refusal to run a classified for its paper, Gay Tide, became by May 1979 the first gay rights case to be heard before the Supreme Court of Canada.

    For more see: "Victories and defeats: A gay and lesbian chronology 1964-1982" in Flaunting It!; and Don McLeod's Lesbian and Gay Liberation in Canada -- both listed in this Inventory under Other sources of information: Published material. See also extensive coverage of these events in TBP itself: Don McLeod's book gives references to specific issues of TBP through 1975; relevant dates are given in Flaunting It! to mid-1982.
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  3. See the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives' extensive files of clippings from non- gay media, particularly for reports on TBP's trials and verdicts (circa: Dec 30, 1977; Jan 5, 1978; week of Jan 2, 1979; Feb 14, 1979; May 31 - Jun 3, 1982; Jun 15, 1982; and Nov 1, 1982).
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  4. The Sustainer Letter (see a description in Other sources of information: Published material) notes in its May 1983 issue that an ad campaign was to run in the US gay magazine In Touch. The Aug 1983 Letter admits it was a failure.
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  5. See "Selling without selling out: Well, trying not to. Further thoughts on advertising -- this time our own," This Issue, TBP # 49 (Dec 1978 / Jan 1979). Michael Lynch took particular exception to using a "big name" expert -- and an American one to boot -- to promote TBP. A series of similar ads had been planned. Only one more ran, on the back of the same issue reporting this debate. This time it was Jane Rule -- still a big name, but Canadian -- saying "It's a magazine for us all."
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