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This Attitude China campaign shares the message that all love is equal

In partnership with Budweiser

By James Hodge

All it takes is a look…Budweiser's new video has made waves in China (picture: Budweiser)
All it takes is a look…Budweiser's new video has made waves in China (picture: Budweiser)

Here in the UK, the LGBTQ+ community enjoys the freedom to express our thoughts — and our love — openly, but in many other countries and cultures the LGBTQ+ community are leading hidden lives.

In China, for instance, life continues to be difficult for queer people, but the launch of the Chinese edition of Attitude magazine in 2021 marked a huge step forward in giving a voice to its LGBTQ community. Its editor Fan Li has highlighted how a different approach is needed in engaging with its readership.

“Our editorial mission is that we want to show our friends and family that our community in many ways is no different to the rest of the Chinese society,” Li told Chinese outlet Dao Insights earlier this year.

“We share the same values, we pursue the same goals, and we enjoy the same things.”

However, to avoid potential censorship, as sexual orientation is still not a publicly discussed topic, the magazine avoids sexy images or personal and social issues and instead focuses on the broader concept of diversity, lifestyle and skills. “We want to spotlight people, showcase their exceptional talent and taste, and celebrate their success within their industry,” said Li.

It was this bold step in launching Attitude in China that attracted Budweiser to join forces with the magazine in a new campaign entitled Eyes Talk, tied in to the Qixi Festival (Chinese Valentine’s Day). It was a natural association for Budweiser. Not only do they make delicious pale lagers, but they are long-term proponents of LGBTQ rights. In the 90s, their ‘Be Yourself’ campaign launched with the slogan: ‘Labels belong on beer, not people’. Since then, they have collaborated with GLAAD, produced Bud Light Party adverts that celebrated marriage equality and gender identities, and supported World Pride. For these reasons, Budweiser have won the hearts and minds of China’s LGBTQ community.

In China, it is a tradition for people to express their feelings and emotions implicitly or subtly, and this is the emphasis of Eyes Talk, a three-part video series created by Budweiser. These short films use the power of eye contact as well as poetry to tell stories of love — two of which shine the spotlight on LGBTQ couples.

In each of the video clips, no words are spoken between the couples. Instead, their eyes do all the talking. The first clip shows the subtle eyes of love at first sight, in which a young woman exchanges a brief glance with a woman sitting on the outdoor patio of a restaurant. The second unveils the eyes of heartbreak as a young, heterosexual couple struggle through a breakup. Finally, the third clip follows the longing eyes of a young male photographer as he takes portraits of his secret crush.

The message of Eyes Talk is “If we are not allowed to talk about it, then let there be no words” and the films’ aim is to encourage its audience to embrace their true selves and love whomever they want. They do not feel like typical advertisements, but more like works of art. Each clip tells its moving story perfectly, matched with a poetic quote that resonates with the romantic narrative. By showing the parallels in how everyone feels and expresses love, they celebrate the different forms of love, reminding the viewer that ‘all love is love’ and spreading the message that all love is equally beautiful. They demonstrate how we can, as the campaign says, “speak carefully of love” in backing LGBTQ equality in China.

As well as these films, the Budweiser partnership with Attitude includes an interactive poetry exhibition as well as a special Eyes Talk cover for the Chinese magazine which echoes the campaign by creatively showing support for the LGBTQ community through the use of images rather than words.

Budweiser’s championing of the LGBTQ cause in China means they already enjoy popularity and influence there. This new campaign is a step further into the hearts and minds of a community trying to find its quiet voice.