A group of men in high heels stumble into a bar. They sidle up to the bar, where the bartender gives them a peculiar look and tells them there's a Ladies Night special on beer. Simultaneously, the mustachioed and hairy-chested dames say "Oh, really?"
They walk off with their cheap beers and, as the ad ends, two of them are standing at a table and one says, "Oh no, there's Ted from accounting" who gives them a wink. The broads look troubled at first, then the other shrugs his shoulders and waves back excitedly at Ted.
This Budweiser ad isn't meant to parody transgendered persons or gays, it plays on the Ms. Doubtfire/Tootsie joke of obvious men dressing as women out of need--it's older than television. The campaign has been so successful it has run for many years and has carried variations that included Don Rickles mistakenly picking up one of the women. One variation that was shot but never aired included a Los Angeles drag queen.
Anheuser-Busch, along with Miller Brewing Co., has the distinction of being among the few companies that advertises in gay media and also has a mainstream media commercial with a gay theme.
Beer companies are well represented in The Commercial Closet, largely due to an effort in the mid-1990s to pull away from the industry's longterm sexist advertising themes that objectified women. Such commercials were summed up by the Swedish Bikini Team ads from Stroh Brewing Co. for Old Milwaukee. Looking for new material to mine, brewers began extensively playing with gay and transgender themes in their advertising. However, because beer drinkers are stereotypically macho, the tone of many of the ads were more often negative.