Perhaps the Heinz corporation is attempting to define one of its 57 varieties.
An advertisement run on British television for the company’s New York Deli Mayo featured a man who children called “mum,” a kiss between two men and the closing words – from one man to another – “Love ya! Straight home from work, sweet cheeks.”
After receiving a reported 200 complaints about the commercial, Heinz pulled the ad from the airwaves, less than a week into its expected five-week run.
Nigel Dickie, the Heinz UK director of corporate affairs, told the London Times, “We recognize that some consumers raised concerns over the content of the ad and this prompted our decision to withdraw it.”
“The advertisement, part of a short-run campaign, was intended to be humorous and we apologize to anyone who felt offended,” he said.
The commercial (which you can see below) features a man in a white apron and deli hat making school lunches behind the kitchen counter for children who call him “mum.” When the “father” in the family starts to leave for work, the deli man calls him back in a thick, New York accent with the words, “Hey! Ain’t you forgetting something?”
The other man returns, and the two share a quick kiss.
Whether the advertisement was meant to depict a homosexual household, or simply the company’s implication that using the product is like having a New York deli man in your kitchen, remains a water cooler mystery.
Guests on Bill O’Reilly’s Fox News Channel program laughed, saying the company was just “having fun with some gender blending” and warning not to read any agenda into the ad.
O’Reilly disagreed, insisting, “It was obviously a gay thing.”
The guests agreed, however, that a commercial like this was unlikely to appear in the U.S., where people would definitely perceive a homosexual implication.
While America is embroiled on controversy over homosexuality and ‘gay’ marriage after recent court rulings in California, in Britain, where the commercial was aired, nationwide civil union laws have been in effect since passage of the Civil Partnership Act of 2004, which grants rights to homosexual couples in areas such as employment, pensions, social security, property and housing but does not officially recognize homosexual partnerships as marriages.
In the first nine months after the act went into effect in December 2005, Britain registered more than 15,000 legally recognized homosexual partnerships.
Heinz has not commented on whether the advertisement was meant to portray homosexual mores or simply ironic humor, and Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority has not yet decided whether to launch an investigation into the ad’s potential violation of decency standards.
Though complaints were registered that the commercial was unsuitable for children to view, the ad would have been banned from running during children’s television programming because of UK laws that restrict commercials for products high in fat, salt and sugar.
The advertisement, generated by an agency called AMV BBDO, was the first created after the company won a £10 million advertising contract with Heinz earlier this year.
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