Now that the heat’s cooled off somewhat, I thought I’d take a look at the furore over June’s Heinz Deli Mayo advert. First things first, it fell foul of Ofcom’s guidelines relating to products that are high in fat, salt and sugar. As a result, it had an ‘ex-kids’ restriction meaning that it couldn’t be shown in or around children’s programming.
The advert’s setting is an average family doing their morning routine; the boy and girl are getting ready for school, dad’s preparing for a hard day at the office and ‘mom’ is Robert De Niro apparently. The boy and girl get their sandwiches (made with the Heinz Deli Mayo) from ‘mom’ – a man with a ‘Noo Yoik’ accent dressed in a deli serving outfit. The father takes his sandwich and says "See you tonight love" to ‘mom’. However, ‘mom’ growls back: "Hey! Ain’t ya forgettin’ somethin’?"
At this point, you’d be forgiven for thinking dad’s forgotten the shovel and box of limes for Tony Soprano. But it ain’t dat. He was gonna go without kissing ‘mom’ goodbye; naughty, naughty! So dad kisses ‘mom’ and is sent off to work with the words: "Love you. Straight home from work, sweet cheeks." That’s the end. Heinz rake in gazillions from their product and everybody’s happy. Or at least, that’s what should’ve happened.
Instead, cue hundreds of complaints to Ofcom from outraged viewers. The objectors deemed the kiss shared by the two male actors ‘offensive’, ‘inappropriate’ and ‘unsuitable for children’ (despite the fact that the ad had an ‘ex-kids’ restriction). Some parents were also unhappy, they said, about having to explain same-sex relationships to their kids. Cue hasty Heinz backtrack and the advert was pulled. Heinz said: "…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 apologise to anyone who felt offended." Cue backlash from gay organisations who called for a boycott of Heinz products.
What a terrible start for Heinz’s new advertising agency AMV BBDO. The premise was basically along the lines of: the product is so good, so tasty, so authentic, it’s as if you have your own New York deli man in your kitchen. The campaign was supposed to last for five weeks – it ended up running for one. At the time, I recall being more offended by the family set-up than the kiss: dad’s off to work while ‘mom’ is in the kitchen making sandwiches…what is this, the 1950s? But perhaps the concept of parodying the traditional view of family in order to sell a product to Brits that supposedly evokes New York went over complainants’ heads. They saw two men kissing; I saw a muddled concept.
The real irony is that these adverts were sandwiched (did ya see what I did there?) between the likes of Emmerdale and Coronation Street: two soaps with gay characters who’ve shared full-on kisses watched by millions of adults and adolescents. As the Yanks say: go figure.
Footballers hug and kiss all the time with nary a conseqence to face. Male heterosexual footy fans think nothing of planting big sloppy wet ones on each other after a vital win (OK, it’s usually the cheeks…and by that I mean the ones on the face…but you get my drift). How does this differ from the Heinz Deli Mayo advert? I’d love to hear your views – did you like the advert? Were you indifferent? Or did it offend you? Watch it below and let me know your thoughts…..
Today I am mostly lovin’ – Coronation Street’s Blanche Hunt has had me in tears of laughter recently. Her belief that Ken Barlow – the squarest man in the land of soaps – is gay is TV gold.
Today I am mostly hatin’ – Joss Stone is apparently joining the cast of The Tudors. If I was watching (and I’m not), I would definitely switch off.
MSN Editor Coops
Don’t miss a trick – Add MSN Reality TV Agent to your IM contacts