Beanz Meanz Swinez

I’ve been doubly gobsmacked by the unfolding tale of Heinz’s ‘gay kiss’-incorporating mayonnaise advert.

First, I was taken aback by the large number of complaints that had been attracted by a simple peck on the lips between a two men in an advert. Which century is this? Where did so many homophobes suddenly find the Advertising Standards Authority’s phone number? Apparently:

viewers complained to the Advertising Standards Authority that it was "offensive" and "inappropriate to see two men kissing".

Other complaints include that the ad was "unsuitable to be seen by children" and that it raised the difficult problem of parents having to discuss the issue of same-sex relationships with younger viewers.

Well, really – poor them. Fancy having to discuss an issue of perfectly natural loving relationships with children. How is this not a good thing? I don’t hear these people complaining about having to discuss issues like, say, straight relationships, or perhaps even less natural things like why people keep interrupting their television-viewing to insist they buy things they don’t really need.

Then, shortly after I finished shaking my head in disappointment at people’s narrow-mindedness, I learned that Heinz’s reaction was to cave in and drop the advert! What on earth are they thinking? Have they calculated that bigots are a more profitable market than the rest of us? Is it really more important to keep them on side than the rest of us?

(I suppose they might have a point actually – I can’t speak for other non-bigots but I haven’t bought Heinz products in years. Own-brand beans are so much cheaper, and taste great. Which makes joining the boycott rather easier… 😉 )

What makes this all even more bizarre is that if you watch the advert, it’s pretty clear that this advert is no more about an actual same-sex relationship than the Bounty kitchen paper ads are about accurately portraying a pair of cohabiting pre-op transsexuals.

If you’re looking for things to get upset by in this ad, how about the casually sexist stereotyping inherent in wheeling out the cliché of ‘mum’ preparing meals for kids, nagging them and so forth, and ‘dad’ going out to work? Or the fact that a product banned from kids’ TV due to its unhealthiness is prominently advertised being given to kids for lunch.

I’m not suggesting either of these is a reason to pull the ad off air, but they’re certainly better justifications for doing so than a supposed gay kiss (which is almost entirely in the eye of the beholder anyway).

Of course, Heinz has now garnered a lot of publicity over this, as well as appeasing homophobes, but I can’t help wondering if this may turn out to be one of those rare occasions when there is such a thing as bad publicity. Here’s hoping.

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One Response

  1. You’re absolutely right… Heinz are alienating a massive part of their customer base with the removal of this advert. I won’t be buying Heinz in the near future.

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