Heinz gives kiss-off to saucy ad

There are clearly some taboos left in advertising, judging by the response to the latest Heinz ad...

Last Updated: 30 Sep 2014

Heinz apologised to viewers and said that it was pulling its new Deli Mayo TV ad, which features two men kissing, after the advertising regulator received a flurry of complaints. It insisted the advert – which is apparently based on the concept that the mayo is so good it’s like having your own New York deli man in your kitchen – was supposed to be humorous. But clearly the joke hasn’t travelled well...

The ad, which was first shown last week, features a New York-style deli man preparing sandwiches for two kids (who inexplicably call him ‘Mum’), and then giving their father a kiss on the lips as he leaves for work, sending him off with a cheery: ‘Love you  - straight home from work, sweet cheeks’. Apparently about 200 people were so outraged that they complained to the Advertising Standards Authority, suggesting it was ‘offensive’ and ‘inappropriate' to see two men kissing.

‘It is our policy to listen to consumers,’ said Heinz’s corporate affairs director Nigel Dickie. ‘We recognise that some consumers raised concerns over the content of the ad and this prompted our decision to withdraw it.’ The ad had an ex-kids restriction, meaning that it can’t be shown during children’s TV shows, but it ran before the watershed – apparently leaving some parents with the uncomfortable task of explaining to their confused kiddies why two men were kissing on TV. Otherwise, presumably, they could have grown up in blissful ignorance of same-sex relationships.

To be honest we didn’t find the ad particularly offensive – but then we didn’t find it particularly clever or funny either. Sadly though, you can’t get adverts banned for being rubbish, otherwise you wouldn’t have enough to get through an episode of Coronation Street. Still, all publicity is good publicity, as they say – and the chances are that Deli Mayo will get a lot more coverage this way than it would have done if Ainsley Harriott or someone was advertising it. So depending on how you look at it, it’s either a brilliant or ignominious start for AMV BBDO, Heinz’s new advertising agency (which won the £10m account last year).

Equally, this ad pales into insignificance compared to some of the stunts we see these days. Take Ryanair, another company that falls foul of the advertising regulator with predictable regularity. It’s never exactly been high-minded in its approach to advertising, but yesterday it sank to new lows as it gleefully celebrated the fact that a Dusseldorf media conference about its new business-class service – which it’s genuinely calling ‘Beds and Blowjobs’ – is the most viewed clip on YouTube. It was more like a first draft of Viz cartoon Finbar Saunders than a corporate press statement...

Click here to read MT’s profile of Heinz’s (occasionally unintelligible) UK boss Dave Woodward.

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