Wednesday, June 25, 2008


As of Monday, Britain's Advertising Standards Authority had received nearly 200 complaints about a Heinz mayonnaise commercial which showed two men kissing.

The blipvert has a family of four - two parents, two kids - only the parents are both men. The kids call one of them "Mum" even though he looks like Robert DeNiro in a deli uniform and he speaks with a New York accent. "Mum" makes sandwiches for the kids to take to school, saddles them with some advice, and then gives his partner his sandwich to take to work.

As the dad rushes off, "Mum" says, "Hey! You forgettin' sumpthin'?" Contrite Dad returns and they kiss. And then off he goes with an admonishment from "Mum" to hurry back home... "Sweetcheeks".

The cowardly suits at Heinz have already pulled the ad, even though it was supposed to run for another month. Figures.
But in Toobworld, it doesn't matter. Once broadcast, it's forever a part of the TV Universe.

And with so many news organizations with copies of it, and the fact that it's on YouTube and other video outlets, this ad will be like the Apple 1984 blipvert for MacIntosh. "It was shown only once," we're always told, and yet that ad shows up all the time in retrospectives! This mayo plug (sounds kinky!) will live forever!

If they wanted to avoid controversy in the first place, what they should have done was have a woman playing the mother and show her in scenes of "domestic bliss" as she heads down to the kitchen while her husband and kids get ready for work and school respectively. But then, just as she opens the mayonnaise jar, suddenly she's transformed into this New Yawk deli man. The message would be that Heinz mayo will help even an ordinary housewife in the United Kingdom make sandwiches as good as the professionals. Then the commercial could have continued as it was. We'd still see the two men kiss, but we'd know he was really kissing his wife.

It's too late to take this corrective measure now, of course; the damage is done. Gay groups are already pissed that it was pulled off the air; this would look like appeasement to their groups for the original slight.

But like I said, it doesn't matter in the TV Universe. Based on the way the ad aired, this is a British home in which two gay men are raising two lovely young children who seem perfectly adjusted to the fact that their "mother" is a burly New Yorker.

And more power to that family! Just in time for the Gay Pride celebrations!

Toby OB

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