Heinz: men kissing is offensive

In the UK Heinz have pulled a TV ad showing a kiss between two men, after it received over 200 complaints that it was “offensive” and “inappropriate to see two men kissing”.

The advert shows a morning family routine – dad is getting ready for work whilst mum prepares sandwiches for the children. Because the sandwiches contain Heinz Deli Mayo, “mum” is visually represented by a stereotypical male New Work deli owner for comedic effect.

This advert does not feature a gay couple (as has been misreported in some cases) – it is a metaphor. The joke is that Heinz Deli Mayo makes sandwiches taste as if Mum’s kitchen has been transformed into a genuine New York deli.

Seemingly a fraction of the population didn’t understand that, and Heinz apparently agree with them that a parody situation where a man gives another man a goodbye peck before heading to work is offensive. That being the case, it rather strongly implies that they would consider any kind of genuine homosexuality to be even “worse”!

If offending 200 people causes them concern, I think they’ve just hit a PR disaster by offending the entire gay community. Not to mention straight people like myself who are offended that Heinz took the opinion of 200 bigoted complainers to be representative of the views of the entire nation. Wake up Heinz – this is 2008, not 1908!

Heinz has invited us to write a message to them, and I invite you to leave a comment here with your thoughts.

14 thoughts on “Heinz: men kissing is offensive

  1. Cripes? Heinz really are in trouble, here. Maybe they need to learn that in today’s world 200 comments from “outraged of Dorking” is no longer significant and less important than just doing the right thing.

  2. I can’t believe they’d pull the ad for those reasons. Mind you, they pulled an ad over here because a squeaky-clean TV chef was wearing a tassled black and white scarf and republican bloggers called it ‘terrorist headgear’…but this?

    I *love* this advert, it’s great.

  3. Heinz have acted very stupidly and I have sent them a comment to say so! I hope lots of other people will too – – maybe even more than the 200 fools who complained in the first place.

  4. The first time I saw this commercial I did see a family with two dads. After seeing it over and over again, courtesy of the internet, the metaphor comes clear.

    As a lesbian, I just see a ‘Mum’ is just a guy who gets into his role as a homemaker. In the movie “Torch Song Trilogy” the ‘mom’ was a gay man.

    It doesn’t matter if the metaphor or humor was missed. What matters is that 200 people can dictate and speak for an entire country.

  5. Oh great, now I know why I never got a reply to my complaint to Heinz last week about their Big Soup. They were too busy dealing with 200 irate idiots.

    But hang on now…..Big Soup….that sounds like…..Big….and Big is……well filthy and suggestive.

    Make that 201.

  6. It isn’t the pulling of the advert that annoyed me, but the grovelling apology by one of their Directors in the UK for offending people.

    That simply reinforces the idea that seeing two men kiss on TV is unacceptable.

    Heinz are entitled to pull the advert, it wasn’t particularly good and it does seem to have confused a lot of people with its message. However they aren’t entitled to do so in a way that reinforces the opinions of such bigots. They should simply have explained that people didn’t understand the advert.

    There is a petition and a facebook group. I’ve signed the petition and joined the group, even though it goes on about a gay kiss, which it wasn’t.

    The petition is rapidly heading towards 10,000. Rather more than the 200 bigots.

  7. Amazing how few folk, except the idiot 200 about whom nothing would amaze me, have realised that this was not a ‘gay kiss’.

    I’ve been covering this on my own blog (linked from my name here), and I think Heinz has been amazingly stupid, OR calculated that this would increase PR at zero budget.

    The amazing thing is that they ran it at all. Not because it featured two cartoon-like characters kissing, but because it was rubbish. But deciding to pull it was an act of gross incompetence.

  8. I emailed Heinz saying I was disappointed that they pulled the ad. That I enjoyed it and got the joke and thought it was clever and that I was concerned at the message they were sending to the gay community by pulling an ad based on the opinion of a small group of people.

    This was their response:

    Dear Jon

    Thank you for your recent email regarding the Heinz UK commercial for Deli Mayo. Consumer feedback is very important to us and we appreciate the opportunity to respond.

    Heinz pulled the ad in the UK because our consumer research showed that the ad failed in its attempt to be humorous and offended people on all sides.

    Heinz apologises for its misplaced attempt at humour and we accept that this ad was not in accordance with our long-standing corporate policy of respecting everyone’s rights and values.

    Again, our sincere apology to anyone who felt offended. We appreciate you taking time to contact us to express your opinion and allowing us to address this issue.

    Liz Pickstock
    Consumer Contact Department

    I have a few points to raise.

    They like to take the opportunity to respond but not the opportunity to read what they are responding to.

    They conduct consumer research AFTER airing an advert.

    They respect the rights and values of bigoted homophobes and apologise to them for showing the ad.

    They do not apologise to anyone who annoyed that the pulled the ad.

  9. Everybody has had the same response, that is the standard reply mark II, used to reply to the more recent emails.

    Clearly they don’t bother to read the emails and assume everybody that sends one in was complaining about the ad.

    Actually it is the apology that makes me most annoyed, and I’ve now received four of them.

  10. You made some good points there. I did a search on the topic and found most people agree with you.

  11. (I know this is very late after the event, but just seen this article)

    Haven’t seen the ad, and don’t care to either. I just want to add, slightly off topic perhaps, but also maybe not, that disagreeing with homosexuality does not make someone homophobic or bigoted. One can disagree without being afraid (the meaning of phobia, after all, is fear), and one can also disagree but not treat people worse. I’m not saying the 200 who complained weren’t homophobic and bigoted, but I’m also not saying they are, and since none of you know who they actually were, you also can’t comment on them.
    Just because you disagree with them doesn’t make them wrong. And it is a well known understanding in fields like this, that for every 1 complaint, assume another 100 silent people who also disagree, which turns the 200 into 20000 (slightly more effective I think)
    Anyhow that’s my 2 cents worth. I expect some blasting for this…

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