Heinz ad withdrawn showing two men kissing

// 24 June 2008

Edit – Oops! It turns out the Heinz withdrew the ad, not leaving the ASA time to ban it.

A Heinz ad showing two men kissing has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority, we learn from Milly of Lesbilicious, thus cementing its poor reputation for implementing its nebulous and retrogressive ‘standards’. As Milly says:

These GAYS will no longer be allowed to confuse, alarm or intrigue the more vulnerable members of our society with egg-based condiments, but IS THIS ENOUGH? Will our sandwiches ever be safe again? Would YOU know what to do if you suspected your lunch might be turning homosexual?

Here’s the ad in question:

Shocking, no?!

Comments From You

Grace // Posted 24 June 2008 at 6:59 pm

Oh I saw this advert and I thought it was really cool! Silly me, being too forward thinking again.

It really is SO ridiculous that this has been banned! I can’t even say why it’s ridiculous, because it’s just all too obvious.

Mary Tracy9 // Posted 24 June 2008 at 7:17 pm

Oh, for PETE’s SAKE!

With all the misogyny, sexism, objectification, pornification, and over sexualization that WE women have to face every fricking day with no “Authority” even raising an eyebrow and they get all fussy about a single kiss between two men???


Shea // Posted 24 June 2008 at 7:17 pm

Oh really! How ridiculous are the ASA?!?! Yikes my condiments might be queer! Please!!! I thought this advert was brillant, funny, witty and a play on stereotypes. What is wrong with those brain-dead morons?

Lauren O // Posted 24 June 2008 at 7:50 pm

That got banned? I was expecting it to be much more controversial. When I actually watched it, I was entirely underwhelmed. It’s not even about gay people! In fact, the joke hinges on the expectation that men won’t kiss each other! Give me a break, ASA.

batty // Posted 24 June 2008 at 8:22 pm

What I want to know, is if 200 people are enough to get the advert banned, could 400 people be enough to get it back on air. I mean the advert was shown on a break in Coronation Street, so it must have been seen by at least…oh 6 million people…at the very least. Non of them seemed to have a problem with it.

Basicly. If the ASA get well over 200 complaints about it been taken off air, (as to me that says that heinze agree with these 200 people) will that mean they have to put the advert back on air? And what a message that will send out to right wing morons. Proving to them they are in the minority (prays to God they are in the minority) would be such a get back.

appologies for not been the most articulate person, but you get the point and I’m too busy fuming over this to concentrate on sentence order.

Laurel Dearing // Posted 24 June 2008 at 10:13 pm

even if i were totally homophobic i feel i would get the fucking joke. lol. its about its punchline, not a gay kiss. and what if it was? people are so petty! i wouldn’t say 200 complaints when you’ve done nothing wrong is enough to pull an ad. i mean i get riled up by the domestic cleaning ads, the boy-girl toys and toons, and the stupid man VS controlling clever woman ads.

Imagine if you will, a formal meeting between 2 women. in a lot of places it involves more of a kiss than that! i mean i hate having to kiss men and women when they get to handshake.

people were complaining that they had to explain it to their kids. oh grow up. theyre gonna have to at some point, and if they really cant talk about it then why not just explain the joke? PEOPLE!

Redheadinred // Posted 24 June 2008 at 10:41 pm

People often use LGBTQ themes in ads to make them stand out, but it’s almost always in a way which ridicules or eroticises the ‘gayness’, rather than it just being incidental. I like this advert – it shows LGBTQ lifestyles as normal and unremarkable, and plays on stereotypes. It’s fun, I’m sad they pulled it.

Kristy // Posted 24 June 2008 at 11:20 pm

But why is the one the girl called mummy making the lunch?

eleanargh // Posted 25 June 2008 at 12:02 am

Apologies in advance for the link-fest, but: a marvelous number of people have already put their names to a petition about this – http://www.petitiononline.com/heinz/petition.html, and (of course) a facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=18375931157 ; Stonewall has called a Heinz boycott: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/news/articles/2005-8088.html#.

I shall be giving the Heinz customer careline (0800 528 5757) a call in the morning to pass on my disappointment. It’s about time TV advertising portrayed a little more than conventional heterosexual relationships.

Marlow // Posted 25 June 2008 at 12:18 am

Where can I complain about the stupidity of this? I think it’s a lovely advert and it’s ridiculous that 200 people can get this off the TV. If they got 200 complaints about this advert if it featured a straight couple would they take it off? No, of course not.

Companies need to be stronger on these issues and promote equality by ignoring these people and being headstrong.

Chloe // Posted 25 June 2008 at 12:42 am

I love that this was shown during an ad break in Coronation Street, which features a gay couple who have shared an on-screen kiss at least once. Surely that brings up the supposedly “difficult” topic of gay relationships much more than some mayo ad?!

I’m complaining to Heinz and the ASA, who seem to be a law unto themselves at the moment. I can’t believe how many people would like to think that they’re tolerant but find it too awkward to encourage their children to be tolerant.

I’d also like to point out that the hideously lame advert French Connection put out in 2006 featuring two women fighting and kissing received around 100 complaints (half the amount that this one has!)

Lily // Posted 25 June 2008 at 8:05 am

It was pointed out on other blogs (the Guardian one, notably) that the ad isn’t supposed to be seen by children anyway (the fat content is too high so there are restrictions on when it’s shown), making the whole “explaining to children” point moot. And even if it had been… well, so what? Plus, it wasn’t even a “gay kiss” (and again, even if it had been, so what?!)

To be honest, when I first saw it, the kiss didn’t even register, what irked me about it was the tired “mum as sandwich-maker” (no other roles for mum?) stereotype.

Leigh Woosey // Posted 25 June 2008 at 8:51 am

Do we have any information on WHY they chose to withdraw it?

Rhona // Posted 25 June 2008 at 9:51 am

I believe the ad was actually pulled by Heinz. rather than the ASA (who are actually surprisingly liberal), so would urge everybody to complain to Heinz.

Personally, I was more offended by the ‘mummy makes the sandwiches because that’s what mummies DO’ scenario.

Kristy // Posted 25 June 2008 at 10:18 am

I can see how the ad is progressive, however i am still so offended by it!

The message i got from the ad was that gay couples take on gender roles determined by which one was to take the ”woman’s” role and which was to take the ”man’s” role just as if they were to be a heterosexual couple.

The ‘mummy’ makes the sandwiches and possibly even stays home while the ‘daddy’ gets ready for work!!

BareNakedLady // Posted 25 June 2008 at 11:53 am

Gotta say, I don’t think Heinz are to blame here. After all, they created the advert, which shows a positive image of two men kissing. I think they are to be praised for that. They bowed to homophobic consumer pressure in withdrawing the ad, yes, but then they are a company which is supposed to make a profit. It’s unfair to expect Heinz to forfeit their own popularity in order to tackle homophobia – it’s not their fault that people complained.

The ‘mummy making sandwiches’ thing is also beside the point to my way of thinking – after all, the whole point of the ad is that a *man* is taking this role, *not* a woman. Isn’t that a strike for feminism & equality? Two men are getting the kids ready for school with no women in the picture. And we’re *protesting* this????!!!

Also, I think it’s entirely unproductive to boycott their products. That’s what everyone who didn’t like the ad will do, and it will result in Heinz and other companies being put off ever trying something like this again!!! I will certainly not be boycotting their products and I have e-mailed Heinz in support of their advert, asking that they bring it back and not bow to the idiots who protested.

Shev // Posted 25 June 2008 at 1:14 pm

Yeah, I found this ad problematic as regards gender roles, but was prepared to put that aside to express my happiness that a gay couple was portrayed as having a ‘normal’ family life (normal in this case subscribing to the gender binary, obv), without a big fuss about OMG, teh gayz.

As for the punchline – what in heck is so funny about a couple giving a peck on the lips to say goodbye? It’s funny cos men just don’t ever ever ever do that (yuk, how gross)? Come on guys, that’s the attitude that led the ad to be withdrawn in the first place.

eeff // Posted 25 June 2008 at 1:29 pm

it is a shame. from the marketing point of view it was a good move. from the advertising point of view it is vivid and well done. I did not expect that from an american corporation as it is (actually that is a shame in itself) very daring.


Alicia // Posted 25 June 2008 at 2:20 pm

Maybe naively, I had the impression that these innocent children who can’t be exposed to such things were also too innocent to know that two men shouldn’t kiss (because gays are bad, m’kay?) Surely the people who complained about this ad (which isn’t particularly funny, or shocking, or effective at selling mayo) should embrace the opportunity to teach their children the lesson that the only good couple is a monogamous heterosexual couple. Now that the ad has been pulled what will they use as teaching materials?

Pete // Posted 25 June 2008 at 2:32 pm

What a tragedy. One of very few good adverts on television and it gets pulled. I wouldn’t mind betting that the ‘I wish that girls were more like Pot Noodle’ advert got a much longer run than this one too…

Sarah // Posted 25 June 2008 at 3:22 pm

I wonder if there would have been the same reaction if there were two women in the ad – I suspect not, especially as it’s more normal for women friends to touch and kiss without being assumed to be gay.

Not to mention that if it were a heterosexual couple, no one would think anything of a ‘peck on the lips’ type of kiss, and it certainly wouldn’t be thought to be a particularly sexual act or unsuitable for children to see, or raising the ‘difficult’ subject of adult relationships – just a normal casual expression of affection.

I agree the ad is silly and annoying in it’s reinforcement of gender stereotypes (though there are plenty of other examples of that!) but to call for it to be banned as ‘obscene’ is obviously ridiculous. I don’t think the ban will be upheld, but really the harm has been dome, with the company giving in so easily to such a ridiculous and unreasonable complaint.

Anna // Posted 25 June 2008 at 7:20 pm

I wonder if there would have been the same reaction if there were two women in the ad – I suspect not, especially as it’s more normal for women friends to touch and kiss without being assumed to be gay.

I don’t recall anything like this amount of fuss over FCUK’s advert in which two attractive teenaged females had a physical fight that ended in rather a long, undoubtedly sexual kiss.

Because men actually enjoyed that one, you see.

Kristy // Posted 25 June 2008 at 10:38 pm

Just a note on the side…

Here in NZ we had a big outcry a few years ago over this ad: http://nz.youtube.com/watch?v=54jVZn1R6aE

which was made by the ministry of health and approved by government as using ‘real’ people.

Its an ad about teenage sex to promote the use of condoms – features two guys kissing (a bit more than a peck on the cheek!)

Made a lot of people angry, but funnily enough they seemed more angered at the ‘promoting sex’ message than it being two guys

bloo // Posted 25 June 2008 at 11:15 pm

Does anyone remember that suggestive ad for Matchmakers about 18 years ago that was on about 4 in the afternoons (I was at uni and ill so watched a bit too much daytime tv)? Two women in a library, one up a ladder and the other at a desk, and the one up a ladder starts posting matchmakers down a long cardboard tube (or something like that) and the one at teh desk looks up and they exchanged a smouldering look. It was the most suggestive nearly-lesbian ad I’d ever seen, loved it! OK, I’m old and a bit sad…

Esther // Posted 26 June 2008 at 11:41 am

From what I’ve read about this add, the point of it is that having that mayonnaise is like having a new york deli person in your kitchen – I think under those circumstances the gendered roles of the two characters are less problematic.

I will be writing to Heinz to tell them how much I loved the ad, and to ask for it back.

Suzi // Posted 26 June 2008 at 11:46 am

I like the ad, and I think it’s absurd to pull it, but am I the only person who doesn’t view this as a gay couple? I thought the joke was that they’re a perfectly “normal” tv ad family, mum makes the sandwiches while dad and the kids head off to their other live. However, because of the mayo that they’re using, the mum has been replaced by the image of a New York deli owner.

To me, it doesn’t suggest that the dad is married to the NY deli owner, but that because of the mayo, the mum and a guy from NY making sandwiches became interchangeable.

If this ad gets pulled, what hope do we have for an ad featuring an actual gay couple?

Jen68 // Posted 26 June 2008 at 12:47 pm

Basically I loved the ad, it was a laugh and I’d love to see it back. In 2008 why should it be such a shock to see 2 men kiss each other? After all women hug and kiss all the time. I have one friend in particular with whom I have long, almost loving hugs with and a kiss (not on the mouth) but we are both straight. I would take issue with the fact that it is the man in the ‘mummy’ role who is making the sandwiches. But all in all the ad was a laugh, I think Heinz are wrong to cave into 200 complaints, and also that the ASA would have been just as daft to ban it. In Glasgow there is a huge H&M advert on the side of building in George Sq featuring women in their underwear that is there 24/7 and is far more disturbing and degrading than a quick kiss between 2 guys.

Katy // Posted 26 June 2008 at 2:21 pm

There is no doubt that the motives behind pulling the ad are homophobic, but,as other posters have mentioned, when I saw that ad I just felt mildly depressed about yet another advert telling us that while Dad is the one that goes out to work, Mum’s place is still very firmly in the kitchen……

Esther // Posted 26 June 2008 at 5:37 pm

Ah!! Second time lucky!

After I posted above, I had a look at the Heinz website and found a press release relating to this whole thing. There they say that the ad “was not in accortance with Heinz’s long-standing corporate policy of respecting everyone’s rights and values.” (http://www.heinz.com/News_f.aspx)

When I first heard about this whole I just thought they were being mildly stupid. But after seeing that I am furious. They have basically accepted that homophobes have the right to oppress the gay community, and supported them in doing that.

I emailed them and have asked for a public apology. I’m not sure how realistic that is, but I won’t be buying anything made by Heinz until they do.

Laurel Dearing // Posted 26 June 2008 at 6:10 pm

perhaps if they had said dad in the role i think it might have affected the joke. it wouldnt be such a big replacement of characters as he is standing in for “new york deli” flavour rather than being a step towards equality.

it would certainly have been a surprise if another dad appeared but i dont know if it would have flowed. perhaps they could have thrown away the title altogether?

its such a shame they pulled it for pathetic reasons but i wouldnt put too much onto the gender inequality of this particular advert. i think it would have been confusing and seeming to put homosexuality in for the hell of it (not that i dont think they should. natural and casually as anything else) but in this day i think we still have the presumption of mum and dad roles.

it would have been a normal advert with a joke, and then it just happened to be a man walk in. nothing wrong with that, but it would have certainly impacted on the comedic timing.

if we didnt make assumptions of gender then that joke wouldnt mean a thing.

however, if other adverts that didnt have that kind of punchline had less depressing choices in gender roles with the nagging housewives, where it wouldnt take it out of context, id be very refreshed seeing as theres so many of them that make me groan.

Seph // Posted 27 June 2008 at 1:22 am

I think the most depressing thing about this isn’t that the ad was pulled, but all the “think of the children!11” style comments that have sprouted up around it.

No-one seems to “think of the children!11” when adverts are suggesting women should be kept in cupboards.

Esther // Posted 29 June 2008 at 7:08 pm

I received a reply to my complaint today. I’m pretty sure they didn’t even read my email, as they pretty much directly quoted the press release, and didn’t offer anything else.

Has anyone else had more luck?

Cara // Posted 29 June 2008 at 9:22 pm

Seph – oh yes, I know. But according to the ASA *those* stereotypes are fine.

Leigh // Posted 8 July 2008 at 4:13 pm

Response from Heinz

Dear Leigh

Thank you for your recent email regarding the Heinz UK commercial for Deli Mayo. Consumer feedback is very important to us and we appreciate the opportunity to respond.

Heinz pulled the ad in the UK because our consumer research showed that the ad failed in its attempt to be humorous and offended people on all sides.

Heinz apologises for its misplaced attempt at humour and we accept that this ad was not in accordance with our long-standing corporate policy of respecting everyone’s rights and values.

Again, our sincere apology to anyone who felt offended. We appreciate you taking time to contact us to express your opinion and allowing us to address this issue.

Consumer Contact Department

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