Budweiser's Couple - Gay or Best Buds?

Budweiser will be congratulated or otherwise – depending on your point of view! They've just produced the first beer ad showing a gay soldier's romantic homecoming – or have they? There seems to be a lot of ambiguity in the commercial.

In the ad, there is excitement at the news and then preparations for the homecoming. But who is the guy making all the party arrangements? I have played the ad several times and can see why there is an argument to be made for a number of different interpretations.

The commercial begins with a typical looking soldier getting ready to come home from what looks like an overseas deployment. But what's going on at home? Have a look and decide for yourself – if you can!

DIGNITY & RESPECT (2001) is a U.S. Army training guide on the homosexual conduct policy. PROBLEMS DEALT WITH: Homosexual conduct, evidence gathering and credible witnesses, admission of guilt, harassment, and additional
DIGNITY & RESPECT (2001) is a U.S. Army training guide on the homosexual conduct policy. PROBLEMS DEALT WITH: Homosexual conduct, evidence gathering and credible witnesses, admission of guilt, harassment, and additional | Source
One of Coor's gay-themed campaign ads
One of Coor's gay-themed campaign ads

The guy who cheerfully takes on the organization for the homecoming could be a loving brother. He is busy getting all of their other buddies and family together as well as preparing the barn for the mega party that is going to be celebrated with copious amounts of Budweiser in fine American style.

Other viewers suggest that Budweiser has made what the Huffington Post reported as possibly “the first-ever post-Don't Ask Don't Tell gay military ad.” However, marketing to the gay and lesbian community has a history that stretches back over a decade.

And it is not the first time a beer company has found itself stirring up controversy. Coors famously antagonized the gay and lesbian community in the 1970s because of sexual orientation questions that were asked prospective employees undergoing polygraph tests. Because of a boycott and the negative publicity, Coors hired Mary Cheney as a marketing specialist in the 1990s and began sponsoring lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) events and advertising in publications targeted for that audience.

Coors showed that it hurt their profits to have offended the LGBT community and their supporters; and hiring one of America's best known gays as a marketing specialist was an obvious ploy to win back those it had offended. However, Budweiser has gone much further in its marketing.

And there is good reason to view the ad as being a great homecoming celebration being organized by a gay lover. The first person the soldier called is a male who is apparently living and sleeping by himself back home. Okay, that's a major clue. Who do you call first with the most important piece of news you can tell? A friend, a brother, mom and dad, your lover? It is not that easy since there are circumstances where the obvious answer is not necessarily the right one. For instance, some brothers or even friends have close enough bonds that parents may take second place.

However the ad is interpreted, Budweiser must have been aware of the ambiguity. It is very likely that they deliberately built it in expecting the very kind of attention and publicity that is garnered by this and similar articles. They can innocently and perhaps legitimately claim that any interpretation is up to the viewer – but they could be open to the charge of exploiting the ambiguous gay interest merely to drive up sales. On the other hand, others may see the gay interest as a corporation recognizing that it is good business to acknowledge the reality of the make up of America's military and general population.

Gays are no longer to be ostracized, demonized or feared – they're people just like everyone else, some will argue, and, importantly, the ad seeks to pay homage to America's military and by association to all those gay Americans who served under the “Don't ask, don't tell” policy. Some other gays will view advertisers and their clients more cynically and simply see the ad as exploitative. Perhaps others will not care whether the two guys are friends, brothers or gay and just regard it as just another heart-warming ad.

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Comments 10 comments

diogenes profile image

diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico

The ad was carefully wrought by Bud. But we associate soldiers coming home with being with their sweethearts or parents first of all...brothers and sisters, too, but it's the lover who usually seems to get the good news. Bud knew what they were doing! Bob


Sembj profile image

Sembj 5 years ago Author

I am sure that you are right Bob; the ad is very clever on so many levels that I have to admire the creativity behind it. I'm sure the company and advertisers have carefully gauged the response, and it suggests that the US is becoming more open to alternative life choices and styles. Also TV shows and ads such as the one under discussion helps drive the change, I think.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa

Very clever ad indeed! I hope you are right about such ads helping change along. In South Africa ads have been running for some years now showing blacks and whites in close social contact which would have been unthinkable less that a generation ago, and I think these ads have helped bring about more openness about issues like race and gender.

Thanks for this interesting Hub.

Love and peace

Tony


Sembj profile image

Sembj 5 years ago Author

Thanks for the comment Tony - and I take the same view that ads like the Budweiser one are a sign that the culture is maturing. And having done a little bit more reading around Coors, it seems they have been quite aggressive in marketing to the LGBT community after they were helped by a successful boycott into changing their philosophy!

Except for a few enlightened companies, I suspect the ads we view as inclusive are only being aired because they are calculated as being good for the bottom line.

I feel that my reading of the motives of corporations, particularly the large ones, sounds very cynical but these readings don't torture reality in any way!

Stay well,

Sem


Tony DeLorger profile image

Tony DeLorger 5 years ago from Adelaide, South Australia

Great article Sem. I personally don't see the ad like that, and if it were more obvious as a gay couple, I wouldn't care anyway. The pendulum swings. One minute it's disgusting, next minute it's parse. Maybe the advertisers are smart- after all we're talking about it. Maybe not, but in any case the ad works. Someone's always upset with something.


Sembj profile image

Sembj 5 years ago Author

Hi Tony - my sense is that it is a very savvy ad. Sometimes the thinking behind some ads just blows me away - if the same thought and effort went into regular TV shows they would be much improved, I suspect!


Mimi721wis profile image

Mimi721wis 5 years ago

Senbj, This looked like a heartwarming ad. I've always believed that our gay brothers and sisters have the right to fight in the trenches with the rest of our soldiers. Gay individuals drink beer and pay taxes just like the rest of us. It's time for them to no longer be treated like second class citizens.


Sembj profile image

Sembj 5 years ago Author

Hi Mimi721wis - thanks for your comments, I think what you say is right.


Sun-Girl profile image

Sun-Girl 5 years ago from Nigeria

Nice info and thanks for sharing.


Sembj profile image

Sembj 5 years ago Author

And thank you for taking the time to leave a comment as well as reading the article Sun-Girl.

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