Opening The Doors To Another Market A New Credit Card Will Be Aimed At The Gay And Lesbian Community. A Plymouth Meeting Firm Arranged It.

Posted: October 09, 1995

These days, when companies are scrambling for every dollar, the numbers can't be ignored: 25 million potential customers, many of them in the prized DINK (double income, no kids) demographic, with $514 billion in annual income.

That's the size and scope of the gay and lesbian market, one increasingly attractive to mainstream business, say advertising-agency owners Pam Derderian and Nancy Becker, partners in life and business.

But it can be difficult to navigate the waters of good taste, doing advertising that appeals to gay clientele without offending them or their straight counterparts.

That's where Derderian and Becker and their Plymouth Meeting company, Do Tell Inc., come in. "Do Tell," says a company brochure, "is dedicated to linking the hands of mainstream corporations with the lesbian and gay community."

"Niche marketing," said Derderian, "is the way all companies will be going into the market."

Tomorrow, Do Tell will announce a major coup - joining the hands of Suburu of America Inc. and Travelers Bank USA with the gay community through a Visa affinity card, to be called the Rainbow Card. The rainbow symbolizes unity within the gay community.

Travelers will allow same-sex couples to apply jointly for a line of credit. That policy should earn major kudos for the bank and the card from gay couples, who often struggle to have their relationships acknowledged by the outside world.

Martina Navratilova will act as spokeswoman for the card. Each purchase made with the affinity card will trigger a donation to the Rainbow Card Foundation, which supports lesbian and gay causes, such as research into AIDS and breast cancer.

"If you put a face on the gay community, you'll be more tolerant of issues in the gay community," Derderian said.

Derderian and Becker also run another business, Fifteen Minutes Inc., which organizes special events, such as the three-day Fall Home Show that is to begin Friday at the Fort Washington Expo Center.

They began Fifteen Minutes nine years ago, and Do Tell in July. Fifteen Minutes' 1994 gross revenues topped $700,000. Derderian and Becker have three employees, who work for both companies.

Becker and Derderian, both 36, live in Miquon, Montgomery County, with a Japanese shiba dog.

Being in business themselves, the partners have a lot of sympathy for the struggles working women encounter as they try to achieve in a business world still dominated by men.

Although Derderian and Becker make no secret of their relationship, they understand why lesbians, particularly those in business, may stay firmly in the closet. Even something as simple as tacking up a picture of a loved one becomes a complex issue when other women are displaying photographs of husbands or boyfriends.

But "I think it's important that we live honestly," Derderian said.

And that was one reason the partners decided to launch the card tomorrow - the day before National Coming Out Day.

For the gay community, Derderian and Becker's credit-card program provides a small but significant way of coming out every time the Rainbow Card is used, even, Becker said, "if it's just to the gas-station attendant."

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