Heinz UK confirms that it decided last week to pull a commercial showing two men kissing after the company received roughly 200 complaints about the ad. The ad promoted Heinz's Deli Mayo, and was a humorous take on a scene of daily life. In the commercial, a New York deli chef makes sandwiches for his kids—taking the traditional role of the wife and mom in such imagery—and, after sending the kids off to school, briefly kisses his male partner goodbye on the lips. The intent, according to an executive for the agency that created the ad, was not so much to show a gay couple in action, as to joke that the product "tastes as if you have your own New York deli man in your kitchen."
The ad was a first effort for Heinz's new advertising firm, AMV BBDO, which won the company's UK business last year. But Heinz decided to pull the ad off the air one week into a scheduled five-week run. According to Heinz UK, the commercial was intended to be funny, rather than to spark controversy. A spokesman for Heinz told Britain's The Independent, "The advertisement was intended to be humorous, not designed to cause offence to anyone. Clearly it failed in its intent to amuse and that is why we took the decision to withdraw it."
The 200 viewer complaints focused on the ad's supposed "indecency" and the supposed risk to children; Britain's Advertising Standards Authority is taking note of the complaints, but has yet to decide whether to investigate the advertisement on indecency grounds. Ironically, the ad already could not be shown during programming aimed at children—not because of its gay content, but because of rules limiting the advertising of foods deemed high in salt, fat, and sugar.
Stonewall, a gay advocacy group, has called for a boycott of Heinz, demanding that they reinstate the ad. As Ben Summerskill, Stonewall's chief executive, pointed out to PinkNews, "If the ad showed a black couple, and people complained, I very much doubt they would withdraw it."
The silver lining of this incident? An online petition in support of reinstating the ad has garnered over 1,300 signatures, though its modest intent was just to match the original 200 complaints.
Decide for yourself what you think of the Heinz Deli Mayo ad. You can watch it here: