September 27, 2010

Beer is gay?

When I think of beer advertising, I do not think about buying beer. This has nothing to do with the fact that I am not 21, and everything to do with the fact that I am female. From what I can gather from beer advertisements, the consumption of beer has little to do with enjoying a cold one, and lots to do with ogling hot chicks, gettin' laid, and assertin' masculinity. Beer is for men! (*grunt* *chest bump*) Any other drink, besides perhaps straight hard alcohol, is for either girls or gays.

This in mind, I was considerably surprised when I came across this advertisement for Bud Light depicting two men getting their flirt on over some brewskis.
Budlight
Given, I found this ad in Out magazine, a gay lifestyle magazine. Still, my mind is blown for a few reasons:
  1. Holy brand dilution, Bud Light! How can you be the beer of manly, boob-touchin' straight men if you are also the beer of gay men? Budweiser targets straight men through the promotion of a (usually sexist and always) heteronormative idea of what it means to drink beer. It will be interesting to see if they experience success in a gay market by running a campaign that entirely flies in the face of their highly-visible original campaign.
  2. The copy at the top of the ad is also interesting. It reads: Be who you are. Drink what you like. This is a sentiment that I do not typically associate with beer marketing. Beer companies rarely encourage being who you are, and more frequently push drinkers to strive to fill a manlier role, say, that of the most interesting man in the world.
Like the Verizon ad I discussed a few weeks ago, I feel like this ad is just another insincere attempt to break into a new market. Obviously, that is the point of advertising. What I wonder, though, is how people will respond to these seemingly-insincere, and often contradictory, brand extensions. What do you guys think? Thoughts on the ad, if you're buying it, beer ads in general...?

P.S. In other news, I know things are getting a little off topic from "Teenagerie." I'm planning on renaming this blog something that allows for a broader focus on all issues surrounding sociology, from gender to age to race. This said, don't be too surprised if a visit to Teenagerie in the upcoming weeks redirects to NewBlog.com or something.

73 comments:

  1. Great post! I suppose since the point of advertising is selling the product, companies will change/convert/slant/spin their ads toward whatever demographic. Do I think Budweiser will experience a huge upswing in sales to gay men? Doubtful. But it's interesting that they are targeting the readers of Doubt rather than, say, the readers of Cosmo or Redbook.

    In other news, I (and I'm sure others) read your blog via an RSS reader, so don't forget to give a heads-up when you change the blog, so we can follow you to your new site!

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  2. I saw the title, pictured a couple of dykes, and thought, "YES." Then I scrolled down for a bit of a surprise.

    Beer (and all other alcohol for that matter) is an interesting case for advertisers because they aren't trying to sell you something you wouldn't ordinarily buy. People tend to either drink or just don't and are probably much more likely to become convinced of their decision by friends and/or family, not advertisers. So for beer advertising, it seems to me to really be more about convincing us of which particular beer we should choose based on the assumption that we are already going to be drinking anyway. This might not be true, but it is my hypothesis.

    I could probably go somewhere deeper with this in the direction of gender stereotyping and masculinity. I could also probably write a thesis on lesbians and queer women in advertising (and how they don't exist but for the male gaze), but I have a bit of a head cold and a lot of reading to do so instead I'll just praise Bud for their inclusiveness and leave it at that. I love gay advertising.

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  3. I wonder if the fact that it's Bud Light has anything to do with the marketing to gays thing? I know that here in the Netherlands, light beer hasn't really caught on yet (that may be different in the US). Women drink it, and yes, gays, and the few straight guys that are worried about all the calories regular beer contains.

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  4. accusing advertising of insincere...well...what do you think advertising is for? you can not condemn ads if they are sexist or homophobic or anything else and at the same time condemn all ads that are not. so you don't want ads at all? ads are made to sell goods and break into new markets.thats the "nature" of the medium.

    (excuse my english,not my mothertongue)

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  5. Gays and beer have an interesting history, with boycotts on the one side and courtship and loyalty on the other. While I can't imagine myself or any of my gay friends ever really embracing Bud Light, both for its watery flavor and, if I'm completely honest, for its low-class reputation, I appreciate being marketed to by a brand I wouldn't otherwise consider "in my corner." Then again, how homophobic could the company that gave us the water dancers of Sea World really be?

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  6. That ad may be new to you, but it certainly isn't new. Bud Light and others have had rainbow, gay ads for years and years. It may have made a stir when they first came out, but I would guess that most straight people who have never been to gay events have no idea that their favorite beer cater to the gay community, too.

    Have you been to a Pride Parade or a gay bar? I'm guessing not yet (welcome to the big City, young one! ;) ). In Chicago's Pride Parade, there are several beer brand sponsored floats. There are also beer brands that help sponsor floats of local clubs and bars.

    I'm not sure how long ago the brands realized that the gay market is a big one. Gay men, as a demographic, have the most disposable income, giving them buying power. If you think about it, before the internet, the main place gay people could meet was in gay bars, which companies would be foolish to ignore.

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  7. There's an article written by Gloria Steinem for Ms. (July/August 1990) called "Sex, Lies and Advertising" about the struggle to get companies to advertise their products in a "women's magazine" in a manner that is not sexist or demeaning.
    I can understand why, at first sight, you may think this ad is exploitative, but it is likely the result of years of struggle on the part of Out and other magazines with a gay male audience to get beer companies to realize that gay men are an ad audience worth reaching out to, much like ads for cars and electronics in Ms. were the result of years of trying to convince companies that women make consumer choices.

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  8. This isn't that surprising. You find a ton of gay friendly adds on magazines and networks that target a homosexual audience.(Bravo, Logo, ect)What alienates one kinda of person attracts another. That's why you'll never find any sort of gay friendly add on NBC or ABC.

    If you ever watch "That's gay" on current, it goes into further explanation if this

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  9. dos equis link was fucking brilliant jamie. do you think The XX should have a sponsorship by dos equis? expanding to the indie/buzzband mrktplace seems like a "good business move" on the part of beer companies. since the hipsterheteronormative bubble has already been busted (via qu33r theory) it seems like it would be a lot easier to appeal to that type of market...possibly by "going viral" kinda like that XX beer ad. have you seen the colt45 ads with billy dee williams (of star was fame)? those i find quite interesting: LANDO
    i mean who wouldn't want to kick back a 40 with lando calrissian in cloud city?

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  10. Interesting. While I think they are doing it solely for the advertising, I think it is great that they are willing to have a gay add like that. I can only hope that they change their focus more towards ads like that!

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  11. Just echoing what robynlicious said. You can't go to a pride parade anywhere without being smacked in the face by two sponsors - beer and lube. Even in my hometown, Tulsa, Bud Light is a sponsor of the pride weekend.

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  12. @tony @robynlicious

    did not know this! thanks for the info. now i'm going to be hyper alert toward this sort of thing

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  13. It's interesting how positive this discussion has been so far in comparison to the Verizon discussion! Have lessons been learned from the Verizon discussion? Have the commenters come to decide that by default ads are insincere and decided to move on and look at whether they like the message or not? Or has everyone who has something negative to say just not commented yet? :P

    I'm not trying to be sarcastic or mean, it's just that last time many comments dove so deeply in to everything wrong with the ad. There are not enough women of colour, they all meet the cultural norm of beauty. Saying "flawless delivery" means that the ad is telling women they need to be flawless. Verizon is not interested in having women's voices heard because of their stand on net neutrality.

    Not that these aren't valid criticisms (though some I agree with more than others) just, couldn't you say the same thing about the bud light ad? Why is it for light beer, this implies gays would only be interested in drinking light beer. The two gay men in the ad are white and (in my opinion anyway) good looking, this conforms to the cultural norm of beauty. The message of "Be yourself" isn't in line with the company's image.

    The fact that "while the ideas are good they're still trying to sell us a product" just doesn't seem as offensive to everyone in this context. I guess my question is why?

    Did using feminism to market something hit a soft spot? Or was this ad campaign just pulled off a little better?

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  14. This ad, while I praise it for showing that the world is not all heterosexual, is still supporting stereotypes.

    The stereotypical link between light beer and femininity is still there. Also, there is a slight connotation that the men in the picture are not real men or cannot handle the real-man taste of actual beer. "Drink what you want to drink" is saying that these men are making the active decision to be feminine and not have that real-man taste or lifestyle.

    Basically what I'm getting at is that drinking bud light is the active decision of showing you are gay or feminine, and that that *choice* (to either drink light beer or be gay) means you are not a real man.

    Still, one step at a time for sure, and I'm happy Budweiser is at least acknowledging another demographic.

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  15. Please reconsider reformatting and unfocusing on "teen"-centered issues. Plenty of places talk about general advertising/media issues surrounding sexism, racism, etc. But few deal with agism.

    Hoping you stay teenagerie,
    -ash

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  16. No alcohol a ever made me want to buy alcohol--most are targeted to men (even this one targets gay men)--and it's not just beer that does it.

    When you're 21, and throughout your college life, you'll be seeing a LOT of very strange things dealing with alcohol.

    This makes me think of a Corona ad I saw a little while ago: a woman sat on a beach chair with an empty one next to her, facing the ocean (we see her from behind). A football flies into frame, and a man gets it, ogles her, she doesn't react positively, he goes away. another woman carrying a bucket of ice with Coronas comes into frame and sits in the empty chair. Then a LOT of footballs fly into the frame.

    i have no idea how to take the ad. It's telling me, for one, that if you're a sexy woman with a sexy friend who drinks beer on the beach men will not leave you alone. (That does not sound like a good thing to me.)

    On the other hand, in my mind, I like to think of them as a lesbian couple on their honeymoon or a trip or something, because that's adorable and awesome! (But I doubt that's how it's meant to be).

    If I thought of beer in the context of ads, I would not buy it either. But I really love beer, and it is my favorite alcohol. It's just really sad that ads create this farce of a reality in relation to what they want people to think about when they think of beer. Ads are weird.

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  17. I don't know if you care to recieve awards, but I thought you deserved one for being awesome.

    I chose you for the versatile blogger award!
    Go to:
    http://icanhascatboy.blogspot.com/2010/10/i-won-award-woo.html
    to recieve it.

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  18. As Tony said - Beer & Lube. The advertizers want to connect Beer & fun. For heterosexual guys, heterosexual sex = fun. I would guess that gay guys think gay sex is fun. Where does insincerity or even sexism come into play here?

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  19. Um...hate to break it to you, but Budweiser's been advertising in the "gay market" for years. Your surprise is almost quaint.

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  20. Those are two mightily uncomfortable-looking fellows.

    (^Who says "Um" in a comment? What, you couldn't think of a word in time to type it?)

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  21. As a gay man, i like this advertisment. I would like it a lot more if they would run it anywhere else except gay magazines. Perhaps in Details.

    I do not find it offensive at all that the only reason they are doing this is to tap into a market,m because they have been doing it for years. I am young, 24, but since i was a teen i can recall Bud Light sponsoring PRIDE and having banners with the gay flag hanging outside of gay bars and what not. I actually know a lot of straight men who go to the town gay bar because the beer special there is unbeatable anywhere else on a fri/sat night.

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  22. Having just graduated from college, I consider beer and especially Budweiser to be the drink of poor people or hipsters who are drinking it ironically/are out of PBR.

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  23. You will find that all American beer is inferior to traditionally brewed English Ale. Even then it's a very difficult thing to find the right drop. Beer is an ancient culinary art form and true care should always be exercised in its creation. Discussions about budweiser vs any other kind of lager are utterly meaningless - full of chemicals and preservatives, kept too cold to appreciate the flavour of the hops and mass-produced to impress the masses.

    The enjoyment of real ale really has nothing to do with being male, female, old, young, 21 or older or younger, gay, straight or anything else. Go to England straight away and find as traditional a pub as possible (preferably outside of London), and ask what real Ale they have on tap, then proceed to drink a beverage with a recipe that hasn't changed essentially in about 500 years.

    The invention of refrigerators and methods of keeping drinks pressurised came about long after the invention of beer - a proper pint should arrive in a barrel (with a shelf life of less than a fortnight), be kept in a cool beer cellar, cared for by a publican with a true understanding of how to maintain the pipes and store his beer, and then handpumped using only gravity pressure into a pint-glass and consumed forthwith.

    Amen

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  24. Beer ads now are a group of metrosexual guys pretending to be into sports and "girls", but they are mostly worried about those DAMN calories.

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  25. Some in the spiritual arena of thought accept as true that they "must stop" the "gay agenda, whatever that might be. Of course, there are folks who are very obstinate in the GLBT community about certain issues such as gay marriage and they demand to be heard and are vocal on the following stage over this debate. When I read the gentleman's essay arguing that no one is born gay, I certainly understood where he was coming from, as he felt as if the ""gay agenda" had come too far, and so, he is just as adamant about pushing back now.

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  27. I hate fake smiles. Come to think of it... I hate smiles, especially when it involves neighbors as fake as Liberace on a good day. ;) beer neon signs

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  28. I can only hope that they change their focus more towards ads like that!tap handles

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