P&G’s Film Coded Brings Legendary Illustrator’s Story to Life


J.C. Leyendecker was one of the most prominent advertising artists of the early 20th century. But that’s only a small part of his story and legacy in media and advertising.

Forced to keep his sexuality a secret, Leyendecker’s coded imagery spoke directly to the gay community and laid the foundation for LGBTQ representation in advertising today.

Leyendecker’s nearly forgotten story has been brought to life through P&G’s film Coded: The Hidden Love of J.C. Leyendecker, presented in partnership with Imagine Entertainment & Television, Delirio Films and MTV Films. Coded won ‘Best Documentary Short’ at the Tribeca Festival and Academy Awards insiders have mentioned the film short lists to win an Oscar in 2022.

The film details the evolution of Leyendecker’s visionary style, which significantly influenced other prominent artists of the time. Between 1896 and 1950, he painted more than 400 magazine covers. He produced 322 covers for The Saturday Evening Post alone, and many advertisement illustrations for its interior pages. Read about the impact of J.C. Leyendecker’s legacy from Sarah Kate Ellis, President of GLAAD.

P&G has long been a champion of LGBTQ+ visibility that accurately and authentically portrays sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. In fact, it was our history team’s research that led to the discovery of Leyendecker’s work with P&G. While researching the impact of our legacy of championing LGBTQ+ visibility in advertising, our team discovered renowned illustrator J.C. Leyendecker’s early 20th-century portraits in our archives.

In 2020, P&G partnered with GLAAD to study the impact of LGBTQ+ inclusion in marketing and media. Read more about our study and how we’ve partnered to implement the findings.

During Cannes Lions 2021, Brent Miller, P&G LGBTQ+ Leader, joined a panel to discuss the film and Leyendecker’s legacy that laid the foundation for today’s out-and-proud LGBTQ+ advertisements. Jari Jones, Black Transgender Actress, Curve Model, Activist and Creative; Sarah Kate Ellis – President and CEO, GLAAD; and Ryan White, Award-Winning Director. They discuss resetting the standards of representation and the myths holding back the accurate and authentic portrayal of the LGBTQ+ community in advertising, and overview a new industry partnership to increase LGBTQ+ visibility in advertising called THE VISIBILITY PROJECT. Watch the panel here.