Celebrity personalities Antoni Porowski and Jonathan Van Ness have joined forces with Petco Chief Merchandising and Marketing Officer Rebecca Frechette Rudisch to venture into a new area: pet food. But it's the duo's marketing stunt that has the Internet ablaze.
The Tea: For years, Queer Eye co-stars Antoni Porowski and Jonathan Van Ness would show up to press events being very affectionate with each other, which caused fans to question whether or not they were actually dating. The speculation even spawned a joke couple's account on Instagram. But the duo released a pair of ambiguous posts last week that threw gasoline on their dating rumors.
- On September 14, Antoni Porowski posted a photo on Instagram with the cryptic message: "Some personal news ❤️ after years of joking about it, we’re finally together. Here’s to giving things a shot :) More tomorrow"
- Queer Eye co-star Jonathan Van Ness posted their own photo with a similarly enigmatic caption: "We’re finally together ❤️ Details tomorrow, but know that we’re very happy and feeling supported by the people around us 🏳️🌈"
- But the next day, the "Jvntoni" hopes of fans were dashed when the duo revealed that the suggestive posts were really a marketing stunt to announce their collaboration with Petco Chief Merchandising and Marketing Officer Rebecca Frechette Rudisch to create a pet food brand called Yummers.
The backlash: Disappointed fans soon accused the duo of "queerbaiting," a term that grew in popularity thanks to the hit series Supernatural, and has been argued to be a marketing and pandering ploy to the increasingly visible LGBT+ community.
- To that, JVN responded:
The takeaway: Antoni and JVN were able to use a years-long joke to create some buzz about their new pet food products launch.
- Did it work? Yes. Because although pet food isn't normally a buzzworthy product category, JVN and Antoni's marketing strategy successfully raised awareness for Yummers. Time will tell how/if it will impact sales.