Advertising is a form of communication that aims to persuade consumers to buy a particular product or take a certain action. Most advertisements use a combination of rhetorical devices to achieve their purpose. Argumentation, or logos, relies on logical arguments, while persuasion uses any means necessary to convince the audience. Advertisements targeted at the LGBT population rely on the importance of the social agenda to create an emotional appeal and shape the customer’s perception of the brand as open and gay-friendly. The Coors Light beer ad is an example of an advertising message with both social and commercial impact. It employs a range of visual and verbal devices to appeal to the LGBT community, raise public awareness of sensitive gender issues, build a loyal target audience, and increase product sales.
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The Coors Light beer ad was created and released in 2011. It was shot by Chicago advertising photographer and director John Gress (Gress). The ad portrays three men dancing behind the company’s logo with bottles of beer. The image is accompanied by the slogan “Out is Refreshing.” The background is covered with words such as “fun,” “exciting,” “energetic,” “energized,” “optimistic,” and “equal.” In the bottom right corner, there is a small sign saying that the company was named one of the best places to work for LGBT Equality by the Human Rights Campaign.
The Coors Brewing Company, one of the largest producers of beer in the United States, has long been known for its gay-friendly policy. It has been advertising in gay publications since the 1980s, and in 2000 was reported to significantly increase its spending to develop gay-specific ads for the general market (Chura). The company aims to provide equal employment opportunities for LGBT people and promotes Coors beer as a perfect drink for gays and lesbians. Since the 1970s, the company’s image has been surrounded by controversies over its inconsistent attitudes towards the LGBT population. According to critics, the company has developed a more gay-friendly approach in an attempt to revamp its anti-homosexual image, which had only partial success (Greenberg and Brie). The Coors Light beer ad is one of the most famous company’s advertisements targeted as the LGBT population.
The ad’s target audience is the LGBT community and people who support them. In the last decades, gay-specific advertisements have become increasingly widespread. The rising support for the LGBT community, paired with the considerable buying power of this social group, has triggered increasing interest from marketers in the gay and lesbian market (Eisend and Hermann 381). While the gay-themed advertisements have traditionally been confined to niche media platforms, they are now appearing more and more often in mainstream media targeted at both homosexual and heterosexual consumers. The Coors Light ad was distributed using traditional media and is intended to be seen by the general audience, while specifically targeting the gay community.
The advertisement approaches its audience in a subtle and creative way. According to the research conducted by Eisend and Hermann, homosexual imagery in advertising can negatively affect the heterosexual consumers, if not exercised properly (398). However, effective gay-specific advertising “can prime most consumers to think about others, facilitating social connectedness, empathy, and the appreciation of diversity” (Eisend and Hermann 398). The Coors Light advertisement does not contain any aggressive visual or verbal elements or stereotypes, focusing on the emotional appeal of the message rather than its social implications. Although targeted at the gay community, it creates a positive image that can equally be appreciated by all groups of consumers. This effect is achieved by a combination of visual and verbal elements that together make up a gay-friendly but not gay-specific message.
The ad’s ethical appeal is based on the company’s public image of a gay rights supporter and an advocate for gender equality. It is designed to bring forth the ideas of openness and progressiveness and raise public awareness on the issues of gender diversity. The gay-targeted appeal of the ad’s visual elements is supported by the sign that names the Coors Brewing company one of the best places to work for the members of the LGBT community. The ad presents the company as credible, open, and trustworthy in addressing important social issues and aims to strengthen its position as a supporter of LGBT rights.
The weak side of the ad’s ethical appeal is the controversial nature of the topic. With LGBT rights, gender equality, and sexual freedom being highly sensitive issues, many companies use it in their messages to attract media and public attention (Eisend and Hermann 387). In some cases, the campaigns aimed at the LGBT audience are just a clever plot to increase publicity and attract new customers. If everyone is talking about a controversial ad or product, more people start buying it. With the gay community being prized for its brand loyalty and high disposable income levels, a marketing strategy targeted at the LGBT population can significantly increase the company’s profits and facilitate its brand image (Chura). This can be the case with the Coors Light ad, considering the company’s controversial attitude towards gender issues.
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Logos is a rhetorical device that appeals to logic and attempts to persuade the audience with facts and figures. The use of logical arguments in the Coors Light ad is limited. The ad does not provide any facts about the qualities and properties of the product. The accent is put on the message supporting the LGBT community, and the only factual information included in the ad is the affirmation of the company’s gay-friendly employment policy. The advertisement intends to refresh the brand image in the memory of loyal consumers who are aware of the product’s characteristics and attract new customers with its gay-friendly message. However, it does not provide much direct evidence to support the idea of freedom of sexual orientation, relying primarily on the emotional appeal of the image and wording.
The emotional appeal is created by the use of pathos, a rhetorical device that intends to evoke an emotional response and put the audience into a certain frame of mind. The Coors Light beer ad uses a range of visual and verbal elements to make the audience experience certain feelings. The ad portrays three men who are smiling and seem to be enjoying their life, enforcing the company’s message of positivity and cheerfulness. The slogan “Out is Refreshing” appeals both to the target audience, implying that openly acknowledging one’s sexual orientation is liberating, and refers to the product’s qualities of a refreshing beverage. The ad intends to establish a connection between the freedom of being open and honest and the enjoyment coming with opening a can of cold beer. The background, comprised of words including “fun,” “exciting,” “energized,” “optimistic,” and “energetic,” is intended to support the message. The words “equal,” “forward-thinking,” and “inspiring” strengthen the ideas of equality and openness. Overall, a powerful emotional message is created, which evokes the feelings of excitement, sympathy, freedom, and involvement.
Another major factor of the ad’s emotional appeal is the social aspect of the problem that it addresses. Gender equality and freedom of sexual orientation are important issues both in the United States and worldwide. Discrimination and violation of the rights of sexual minorities spark public discussions and make up a crucial part of the modern social agenda. The companies and organizations that openly support the LGBT community contribute greatly to promoting tolerance and gender equality. In this regard, the Coors Brewing company is doing an important job in raising public awareness of gender issues. The ad addresses the problem in a fun and engaging way, both promoting its product and a sensitive social issue.
An effective advertisement uses a combination of persuasive and logical elements to create a message that is both convincing and engaging. Despite the limited use of logical arguments, the Coors Light advertisement produces a powerful message that reaches its purpose. The persuasiveness on the message is achieved through a combination of emotionally charged visual and verbal elements aimed to evoke the feelings of excitement, enjoyment, and happiness, and promote freedom and equality. The information is presented in a subtle, fun, easy, accessible, and engaging way. The ad attracts attention and makes a consumer think about the message and the product.
Chura, Hillary. “Coors Hikes Spending on Gay Ads.” AdAge. 2000, Web.
Eisend, Martin, and Erik Hermann. “Consumer Responses to Homosexual Imagery in Advertising: A Meta-Analysis. Journal of Advertising, vol. 48, no. 4. 2019, pp. 380–400, Web.
Greenberg, Zoe, and Shea Brie. “Brewing Hatred: Coors Beer Company Markets to Women, Latinos, LGBTQ Communities as Coors Family Attacks Their Rights.” Rewire.News. 2015, Web.
Gress, John. “Chicago Advertising Photography: Coors Releases One of My LGBT Ads.” Chicago Photographer & Director of Photography. 2011, Web.