Miller and San Fran Queer Community Have A History
Posted by Bob Skilnik on September 29, 2007
In a 1988 Wall Street Journal article, a Miller spokeman begged off on the idea that the brewery’s marketing efforts were concentrating heavily on the gay market. It’s obvious that that is no longer the case. Miller has become notorious in its open marketing to gays. In a sense, the old Frederick Miller brewery has come out of the closet, but in a number of past instances, the brewery has repeatedly tripped over its threshold.
Back in 1999, the brewery ran into problems with its more liberated approach in courting the gay community. There was little question what group of San Francisco beer drinkers Miller was targeting with a TV ad featuring a shirtless muscle man. The spot was supposed to air on a cable program in San Francisco and feature a “Barechest Men” calendar for sale, the proceeds going to a local AIDS-funding group.
The combination of Miller sponsoring a photo calendar of beefy hunks and indirectly raising funds for AIDS victims was too much for some straights in the San Francisco community. After loads of protests by conservative groups, the thirty-second ad was pulled. A Miller spokesman tried to lay the idea for the commercial at the feet of a local advertising agency and not at the door of the brewery’s Milwaukee headquarters. (It’s interesting to note that this is the same excuse they’re now using; this Folsum fiasco was the doing of the local distributor, not the suits in Milwaukee. Sure.) The idea of courting gays while possibly disenfranchising the much larger market of straight beer drinkers just 8 short years ago made Miller back off from this openly advertising gay-themed commercial and squealched overtly gay-themed ads for the next few years, except in gay publications.
However, maybe in a reflection of political correctness (and an almost stagnant growth in beer sales), a Miller television commercial from 2001 had two women sitting at a bar, obviously on the prowl for some man-meat. In the TV spot, one girl has the bartender send a beer over to a man sitting alone. As he starts to acknowledge the drink, the women spot a better looking man behind him and have the female bartender go back and grab the beer from the poor slob who was about to sip on the bottle. “Sorry chief!” she says as she pulls the bottle from his hand and passes it over to the girls’ newest interest. Seconds later, another hunk joins the single man who is enjoying his free beer. “Jackpot!” one of the girls says, but she almost falls off her stool when the two men hold hands. “Well,” one girl declares, “at least he’s not married.”