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Lusosphere: Are you hetero?

Earlier this week, Global Voices published an article about an advertising campaign in Guatemala which had raised a few eyebrows among local bloggers. More or less at the same time of this publication, some other bloggers in Portugal were celebrating a victory: the day on which a beer company gave in and changed its campaign because of a protest in the blogosphere.

For two weeks, Tagus’ campaign had been asking customers: “Are you hetero?”. Their goal was to promote their online community, the “first place dedicated to the heterosexual cause in Portugal”. The debate went from the posters at the tube stations to the blogosphere, and from there to a complaint logged with the ICAP (a Portuguese institute that regulates the advertising industry). It has ended with a change of heart and the campaign being edited.


(The two original posters: Are you hetero? Register with

Joao Pedro [pt] celebrates the initial campaign – considered illogical by him – coming to an end:

Mas aqui fica a noticia que me deixou bem alegre na quarta feira: A Tagus acabou por mudar o conceito de comunicação ‘Tu és hetero’ depois da revolta gerada nos blogues. O caso deu entrada no Instituto Civil da Autodisciplina da Publicidade e a empresa detentora da marca alterou a mensagem. ‘A verdade é que és livre de escolher’, pode ler-se, agora, no site da campanha,

But here is a piece of news that made my day this Wednesday: Tagus eventually changed the message concept of ‘Are you hetero’ after the blogguers rebelled against it. The case was logged at the ‘Instituto Civil da Autodisciplina da Publicidade’ and the company that holds the brand changed its message. ‘The truth is that you are free to choose’, the campaign's website says now:

Zeh [pt] explains a feeling towards the piece which was shared by many others:

… não pude deixar de me sentir (mais) desiludido com o nosso país. Como se já não bastassem as mentalidades tacanhas que por aí abundam, ainda vem uma cervejola fazer uma publicidade que apela, de forma dissimulada, ao desenvolvimento de uma cultura homofóbica, parodizando o “orgulho gay” (criado com vista à luta pela igualdade social), pelo “orgulho hetero”, para vender bejecas?

… I could not help but feel (more) disappointed with our country. As if the coarse mentality that abounds over here wasn't enough, yet more, a beer makes a piece of publicity calling for the development of a homophobic culture in a disguised way, the “hetero pride”, a mimic of the “gay pride” (which was created to fight for social equality), only to sell booze?

The blog Panteras Rosa, which stirred the fuss with these parodies of the beer advert, also celebrates the outcome and asks that their motivation for the protest [pt] is understood:

A campanha da Tagus aborda, precisamente, uma orientação sexual como motivo de orgulho. A nossa contra-campanha limita-se a lembrar o que é o orgulho hetero no seu extremo: violência e discriminação contra as sexualidades que fogem a essa norma moral. (…) Porque não é a orientação sexual que é motivo de orgulho. Motivo de orgulho é o facto de lutarmos pelo direito a vivermos com a que temos numa sociedade que nos nega esse mesmo direito a sermo-nos como somos, independentemente da nossa orientação sexual. É esse o nosso orgulho. É isso o Orgulho Gay, Lésbico, Bi e Trans.

Tagus’ campaign addresses, precisely, sexual orientation as a cause for pride. Our counter-campaign is just to remind us what hetero pride is in its extreme: violence and discrimination against sexes who differ from its moral standard. (…) Because it is not sexual orientation that is a matter of pride. The fact that we fight for the right to live with the [sexuality] we have in a society that denies us the same right to be what we are is the reasoning behind pride, regardless of our sexual orientation. That is our pride. This is Gay, Lesbian, Bi and Trans Pride.


(Panteras Rosa takes the piece and asks: Are you homophobic? Yes! )

However, Pedro Mafra [pt] is among the group that do not understand all the fuss:

A comunidade gay reclama sobre publicidade descriminadora e opressora…. Aonde??? Hello!!!!!!! Aonde é que os heteros fazem Hetero Parades?? Que eu saiba existe o gay pride, as gay parades, o roteiro internacional gay com restaurantes e pensões exclusivamente para gays, etc etc, e acham que a maioria dos heteros se queixam de serem oprimidos….

The gay community claims the piece was prejudiced and oppressive …. Where? Hello!!!!!!! Where do heteros go on Hetero Parades? To my knowledge there are gay pride, gay parades, guides featuring international gay restaurants and hotels exclusively for gays, etc., and they think that most heteros are complaining about being oppressed…

Along the same lines, Francisco José Viegas [pt] concedes that the campaign could have been better, but the reactions were even worse:

Poderia, até, ser boa. Mas a reacção indignada, acusando-a de homofóbica, é mais ridícula do que a campanha propriamente dita e configura uma patrulha sobre toda e qualquer linguagem, engrossando a classe dos coitadinhos

It could have been a good one. But the outrageous reactions, accusing it of homophobia, are more ridiculous than the campaign itself and set up a patrol on any language, enlarging the [society's] group of ‘poor little things’.

Jiggy Black [pt] hopes that the advert was changed just because of a lack of popularity and not due to pressure:

Parto do princípio que esta alteração da camanha pressupõe um “mea culpa” pelo insucesso do conceito de comunicação. Se assim for, tudo bem. Se só reformularam a campanha por terem à perna associações contra a discriminação homossexual e mesmo da ICAP, fazendo-lhes a vontade, isso já é grave.

I assume that this change in the campaign presupposes a “mea culpa” for the failure of the concept of communication. If so, that's fine. But if they have revamped the campaign just because the organizations against homosexual discrimination or even the ICAP are after them, just to do as these organizations please, this is serious.

Renas e Veados sees the bright side of it all and receives over 50 comments on this post [pt]:

O “hetero” só passa a fazer sentido a partir do momento em que o “gay” começa a fazer-se notar. Nesse sentido este “Orgulho Hetero” é até um sinal positivo, mostra que há uma brecha na hegemonia. Não ofereçamos à Tagus numa bandeja de prata o papel de “vítima da heterofobia”, please. Há coisas tão mais importantes com que nos ocuparmos. Façamos o humor e não a guerra. É uma campanha para heteros, não é? Pois que sejam os heteros a preocupar-se com ela… e a aguentarem goela abaixo o inenarrável sabor de uma Tagus.

“Hetero” only makes sense from the moment when “gay” begins to be noticed. Thus this “Hetero Pride” is a positive sign, it shows that there is a gap in the hegemony. Please let's not offer up Tagus on a silver tray as a “victim of heterophoby”. There are more pressing matters to deal with. Let's make humour, not war. It is a campaign for heteros, isn't it? So let the heteros worry about it… and be the ones who have to taste the indescribable flavour of Tagus.


(The final piece: The truth is that you are free to choose. You are free to go out and have fun with whom you wish. You are free to become what you are. The truth is that you are free to say what you think and to position yourself for or against this campaign. The truth is that you are free to be happy).


  • Nice piece!

  • New world map after the European-African summit.

  • Great article! I can’t believe that this campaign ever got started in the first place, what were they thinking? That gay people don’t drink beer?

    It would be interesting to learn what the normal market for this brand is in Portugal, that they would think this would go over well with them.

    The final poster in this article is very interesting. That they would frame it that way is actually pretty mature. When they say “you are free to disagree with this campaign” it almost makes me think that they had already planned to change the posters once the campaign became controversial, but somehow I doubt that they succeeded very well if that was their goal.

  • Thanks for the comment, Jeremy! Well, it seems that it was never a popular brand and much often not even heard of. I will leave a quote from one of the blogs I researched for the piece, which I left out in the end, but still think it is a nice input:

    “How do we boycott a beer that nobody drinks?!”

    Source: “Como é que se boicota uma cerveja que ninguém bebe?!”

  • Ha ha ha, thanks for that.

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