Nissan takes an unusual approach to humor with its new commercial in which a young man “comes out” — as the owner of an Infiniti to his conservative, BMW-loving father.
“You must have always known I was a little…different,” the son asks. “Not this different,” the father dismissively replies.
The Infinity ad has been heralded as groundbreaking but also questioned by critics who ask whether the spot trivializes real challenges of coming out to parents by equating it with with a luxury car purchase.
Coming-out as a theme or metaphor in commercials is relatively new to the U.S. market, but it has been used as an attention-grabbing devise in other markets as far back as 2001, including, most recently, this spring by McDonald’s McCafe in Taiwan, the first Asian country poised to legalize same-sex marriage.
Here are 6 ads exploring coming-out themes:
1. McDonald’s McCafe, Taiwan
A young man sits across from his dad, just after he has come out to his him by writing “I like guys” on his coffee cup. The father, overcome with emotion, gets up and walks away for a few minutes while the young man sits alone.
When the father returns with his own coffee, he picks up his son’s pen and updates the cup’s message: “I *accept that you* like guys.”
Son nearly cries while dad smiles with acceptance.
2. Findus, Italy
In another accepting ]coming out ad – this time including a boyfriend — Iglo Group’s Findus brand in 2014 showed a young man hosting a meal for his mother at home. After impressing her with his microwave frozen-food cooking skills (!), he reveals: “Mom, there is another little surprise: Gianni isn’t only my flatmate, he’s my boyfriend.”
“My darling, I already got that,” she replies warmly.
3. Vodafone, UK
Going back a decade in the UK, Vodafone created a short ad with a young man who comes out by cell phone without any small talk, “Dad, I’m gay.”
Instantly, his dad replies “Excellent” and hangs up without pause.
4. Radio Donna, Belgium
Radio Donna, Flemish radio and TV in Belgium, developed an ad with a flashier coming out in 2004. A young man sits at the dinner table alone, with his mother and father in the living room behind him, reading. There is no sound but the clock ticking, then the man walks over to his parents, unzips his track jacket, and belts out a Broadway-style song and dance:
“Dear mommy and daddy, you might not be ready, but I’m overcome with joy. It may be hard to swallow, but I’m in love with a boy!” Now in a tight gray tank top, he sways provocatively, sounding a lot like a song from the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Two “back up” lip-synch singer/dancers, a man in a leather outfit, and another guy, perform the part of two women singing, “It’s okay, he’s only gay!”
The parents’ heads bop to the music of their son’s coming out song as their son continues, leaning waist level with the leather dude: “This man in leather brings me in the mood, tight pants, wow they fit so good! I guess you better respect my choice – I’m in love with a boy!”
5. Earl’s Restaurant – Canada
Canadian restaurant Earl’s had a more sedate approach in 2002.
A white family sitting in a restaurant waits for their food as their effeminate son begins an important announcement, with a young black man (obviously his boyfriend) sitting next to him.
“Mom, dad, everyone — I have something to tell you all. Now, this may not be easy for you. But I know you all just want me to be happy. You may have already guessed it…But I’m…” and then dinner arrives and everyone focuses on the food, forgetting what he had to say. Even the young man gives up to eat.
6. Pepsi, Canada
A year earlier, Pepsi Canada used a stereotypical sissy in a shocking pink jacket and a blond wig, lisping through a press conference. As he tests the microphone, he says, “One, two, ouch!”
“I am here today to tell you a secret. I have been keeping it inside for years. But I can’t stand it anymore, I must tell someone. So here goes, I am telling you publicly: I am bi! Yes, yes, bi. I love both Pepsi and Diet Pepsi. I know there are millions who are like me but refuse to admit it. To them I say: ‘Cheers, sweeties!’ Vive la différence!”
As he kisses both bottles, “Here you, here you. It feels good to spill one’s guts! Bravo! Thank you!”
What a difference a decade makes!