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Heinz Recipe for Trouble: Hold the Ad

Heinz Recipe for Trouble: Hold the Ad
A Commercial for Heinz Deli Mayo Stirs Up Controversy in the U.K.

LONDON, June 26, 2008

The Heinz Co., best know for its '57 Varieties' slogan, is finding out that there is more than one variety of public relations trouble.

The condiment giant yanked a television commercial last week for its new Heinz Deli Mayo in Great Britain because of complaints that the ad featured a quick kiss between two men.

But taking the ad down may have only compounded Heinz's problem by angering the country's gay activists, who are now organizing online protests and calling for a boycott of all Heinz products.

The commercial, which only ran in Great Britain, begins with a morning routine: Two young children get ready for school, a father prepares for work, and a man with a New York accent and dressed as a deli worker makes sandwiches in the kitchen.

The children call the deli worker Mum, and as the father leaves for work he says, "See you tonight, love," and leans over the counter to kiss the cook before heading out the door.

See the advert and read comments about it on my blog at: http://mc4bbs.livejournal.com/183580.html

Add your name to the over 12,484 signatures on the "reinstate its Deli Mayo TV advertisement" petition at http://www.petitiononline.com/heinz/petition.html

Let Heinz know that YOU WILL NO LONGER buy their products and, as a gay man, will activily take a stand against anyone or any company that caters to the homophobic. Send them your commants here: http://www.heinz.co.uk/content/talk_to_us.aspx


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 2nd, 2008 01:13 am (UTC)
Thanks for posting this.

Any good sites listing homophobic companies so that I can avoid them too?
Jul. 2nd, 2008 02:04 am (UTC)
Buying for Equality

Let's approach it from the other direction and see which companies you should be supporting...

Buying a cup of coffee? Filling up your gas tank? Booking a flight for that dream vacation?

Every day, you make decisions about whom to support in corporate America. The Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Buying for Equality can help you easily support companies that support equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans.

Ratings in Buying for Equality are based on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s annual report card, the Corporate Equality Index. A record 195 companies scored 100 percent on this year’s report, which is a significant increase from the 138 companies that earned a perfect score last year. Every day, from enhanced domestic partner benefits to transgender inclusion in non-discrimination policies, we are seeing a revolution in the American workplace.

Last year, more than 250,000 people used Buying for Equality to make informed choices about their purchases. This year, you can do your part to support fair-minded businesses by downloading Buying for Equality 2008.

Investigate further at http://www.hrc.org/buyersguide/index.asp
Jul. 2nd, 2008 02:45 am (UTC)
AFA 'key player' pressuring Heinz to pull its gay commercial
Heinz 'men kissing' ad: US Christian group urged firm to pull commercial

Mark Sweney, guardian.co.uk,
Tuesday July 1, 2008

The American Family Association, a powerful Christian group, has emerged as a key player pressuring Heinz to pull its Deli Mayo commercial featuring two men kissing – even though it was never broadcast on US TV.

Heinz's US HQ was flooded with emails complaining about the Deli Mayo ad, which was only broadcast in the UK, after the AFA found out about it via the internet and mobilised its 3.5 million members.

The AFA, which says it stands for "traditional family values" and targets the "influence of television and other media" on society, sent an email "action alert" to its 3.5 million subscribers denouncing the Heinz Deli Mayo commercial as the "kind of ad we can expect to see in California as they prepare to vote on homosexual marriage".

"I thought you might be interested in seeing the Heinz ad featuring a homosexual family and two homosexuals kissing," said the email action alert.

"We suggest you forward this to all your family and friends letting them know of the push for homosexual marriage by Heinz. This ad is currently running in England, but no doubt can be expected in the US soon."

The action alert, sent out on June 24, included the phone numbers of Heinz's US corporate headquarters and an email letter of complaint for subscribers to support.

Cindy Roberts, the director of media and public relations at the AFA, told MediaGuardian.co.uk that after the alert was sent out Heinz US called to let the organisation know the ad would not run again.

Roberts said Heinz had admitted that the volume of AFA members' email complaints had "bogged the [computer] system down".

The AFA alert was sent out a day after MediaGuardian.co.uk revealed that about 200 viewers had complained about the ad to UK's Advertising Standards Authority.

Heinz UK said it actually pulled the ad on Friday June 20, several days before the AFA got involved.

But Heinz UK only put out an official statement on Monday last week, June 23, saying it had taken the decision to pull the campaign because "some consumers raised concerns over the content of the ad".

A Heinz UK spokesman said the company took the decision after receiving "30 to 40" complaints "from all sides of the debate, not from one side exclusively".

Despite the UK's pre-emptive move, the AFA appears to have applied significant pressure in the US that contributed to Heinz putting out a second, much more strongly worded statement distancing the company from the Deli Mayo TV ad.

"Heinz apologises for its misplaced attempt at humour and we accept that this ad was not in accordance with our longstanding corporate policy of respecting everyone's rights and values," said the statement, which was put out by Heinz US the day after the AFA galvanised its members to protest.

Michael Mullen, the director of global corporate affairs at Heinz, declined to reveal how many complaints - or how many votes of support - the company had received about the TV ad.

"The ad was intended to be humorous and was not intended to be an advocacy ad," said Mullen in an email statement to MediaGuardian.co.uk.

"Heinz made the proactive decision to withdraw the ad before we were contacted by the American Family Association."

Wayne Besen, an executive director of gay advocacy group The Truth Wins Out, appeared on a CNN debate in the US last week discussing the Heinz ad.

In the debate he raised issue of how the AFA, a powerful American lobby group, had played a role in the strong stance Heinz US had adopted over the ad.

"They are a very powerful constituency, a very powerful lobby group. They are one of the top groups in the religious right in America," Besen told MediaGuardian.co.uk.

He added that the AFA had gone after companies including Disney and Ford in the past.

"They have a lot of experience mobilising campaigns and boycotts. They are like a puritanical national nanny," Besen said.

To contact the MediaGuardian news desk email editor@mediaguardian.co.uk or phone 020 7239 9857. For all other inquiries please call the main Guardian switchboard on 020 7278 2332.

Edited at 2008-07-02 02:46 am (UTC)
Jul. 2nd, 2008 02:48 am (UTC)
Britain’s 3.6 million strong gay community call for a boycott of all things Heinz!

Heinz found itself in the middle of a PR disaster last week after pulling their ‘hilarious’ TV ad for all the wrong reasons.

The ad in question tried to offer a humorous take on a family leaving for the day with their packed lunches, but “mum” in the kitchen was replaced by a male deli worker with a New York accent.

It had a 30 second spot which was shown on terrestrial TV last week and resulted in what can only be described as ‘outrage’ among middle England where members of the public were horrified at the sight of two men having a quick peck on the lips. Shock! Horror! How dare they?!

The Advertising Standards Authority was inundated with more than 200 complaints after just one week of scheduling on terrestrial channels. Some viewers had found it ‘highly offensive’ and ‘unsuitable for children’.

Some red tops reported that parents were ‘angry’ because they had been forced to explain same-sex relationships to their youngsters who asked them about the ad. Not sure if that’s Heinz’s fault however, more like bad parenting.

In response, Britain’s 3.6 million strong gay community have called for a boycott of all things Heinz to prove a point. Not sure if that’s the right approach but good luck to them. It’s pretty upsetting to find we are still in fact, living in rather homophobic times. It’s just an advert for goodness sake!
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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