Heinz 'male kiss' TV ad sparks hundreds of complaints

LONDON - A Heinz Deli Mayo ad, featuring a kiss between two men, has drawn 179 complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority since it first aired last week.

The spot, created by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, opens on a family going about their morning routine, getting ready for their days ahead at school and the office.

"Mum" is making sandwiches for the kids' lunchboxes but "she" is in fact a male uniformed New York Deli sandwich maker.

As the husband is about to leave the house "Mum" reminds him that he hasn't given "her" a kiss goodbye saying "Hey, ain't you forgetting something?"

The two men kiss and the sandwich maker says: "Love you. Straight home from work sweetcheeks."

The idea behind the ad is that Heinz Deli Mayo is so authentic that it tastes as though anyone with a bottle has their own New York Deli man in the kitchen.

The advertising watchdog has received 179 complaints from viewers so far with some complainants saying that the ad is "offensive" and that it is "inappropriate to see two men kissing".

Other viewers have complained that the ad is "unsuitable to be seen" by children and that it raised the difficult problem of having to discuss the issue of same sex relations with younger viewers.

The ad has an ex-kids restriction, meaning it cannot be shown in or around children's programming, because Heinz Deli Mayo comes under Ofcom's restrictions relating to products that are high in fat, salt or sugar.

Earlier this year the Advertising Standards Authority released a list of the most complained about ads in 2007, which was topped by the Government anti-smoking ad featuring a man with a fish hook through his mouth.

It received 774 complaints and was followed by Trident chewing gum's "mastication for the nation" ad with 519 complaints, then Rustlers burgers and chicken naan ad with 219 complaints.

As it stands at the moment the Heinz ad would come seventh on this list and if the complaints continue to pour in it could become one of the most complained ads of this year.

In March, the advertising watchdog refused to uphold 54 complaints about gay rights group Stonewall's billboard campaign tackling homophobic bullying.

The billboard campaign, which featured the slogan "Some people are gay. Get over it!", received seven complaints that it was "inappropriate for display where it could be seen by children" and five that the ad was "particularly offensive to Christian and other groups".