This touching, tongue-in-cheek ad produced by Ogilvy & Mather for Guinness was banned in 1995 before it even aired and its existence was thenceforth denied – a reoccurring theme in LGBT history.
According to Ad Respect:
Artfully shot with the help of maverick California-based British producer Tony Kaye, the UK tabloid press widely reported the planned ad before it aired, to much scandal. Pubs and consumers were shocked that the traditional brand would air a gay ad.
Fearing greater backlash by straight consumers, the TV spot was ultimately dropped by Guinness. Later, the company tried to deny that this spot even existed.
“There was a desire by the agency and Guinness to have a certain ambiguity about it,” Kaye told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. in 1997 about the ad he created. “So that when you watch the spot, you said, ‘Well are these guys gay or not?’ These guys are gay — the storytelling, to me, needed him to give the other guy a little peck on the cheek.”
When asked why the company would deny the existence of the ad he shot, Kaye offered, “Most of them have the vision of a dead rat. I think it was charming and it was very funny and would sell a hell of a lot of beer.”
It is deeply unfortunate that the spot never aired, as it regularly gets standing ovations at live Commercial Closet screenings to gay audiences.
Today, ads featuring LGBT people are far more prevalent and even celebrated, but it took balls to produce this in 1995. And the fact that the gay couple is portrayed in such a loving and – pardon the pun – straightforward way is remarkable in and of itself. It doesn’t hurt that they’re easy on the eyes, either.
Of course, it’s a shame that homophobia and bigotry kept this amazing ad in the closet so long, but it’s always better to come out late than never at all.