WATCH: Banned 1995 Guinness Ad Sees The Light Of Gay

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.

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  • jerry_pritikin

    I am beginning to like the 21st century for reminding us what we missed in the 20th! Not only politically,but for opening so many minds that let us in for being OUT!

  • fagburn

    This ad was not banned, it was a PR stunt, and never intended to be aired.
    It has not “only just seen the light of the day” – videos were sent out to gay and straight media, and it’s been available on YouTube etc for ages.

  • jerry_pritikin

    Back in 1978, I played on a team in the San Francisco Gay Community Softball League. However our team had a few straight players… in fact our team won the Championship and won the right to represent S.F. in the Gay World Series in New York, and we were kicked out for having too many non-gays on our roster. However, that year CRUEX had a campaign to stop Jock itch. Being a publicist, I wrote the company with an idea for an ad. It had photographs of 3 players(including myself)in baseball card like images. There was Dr. Jim Halloran our short-stop and gay,Dan Wexler our first baseman who was straight and myself who was the pitcher. I recommended that they have a banner on the top of the ad… ONE OF THESE PLAYERS IS STRAIGHT, ONE IS GAY AND ONE WE ARE NOT SURE OF… HOWEVER THEY ALL HAVE ONE THING IN COMMON… THEY ALL USE CRUEX TO PREVENT JOCK ITCH!
    They turned down the ad… Today it would be a winner! Years later, I tr”ied finding major companies to sponsor me. I was a well known Chicago Cubs fan called The Bleacher Preacher”. I contacted Kaopectate, known to stopping diarrhea. So I recommend whenever the Cubs would bring in a relief pitcher. I would hold up a sign in the cheap seats. TIME FOR KAOPECTATE… TO STOP THE RUNS! They turned me down,too. However I’m glad that this ad for Guinness was or wasn’t made for the airwaves. I liked it.

  • hyhybt

    Part of me is amazed that an ad like this would still generate controversy, however lessened, in 2012… the rest, amazed it ever would at any time.

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