Lowe and Partners Worldwide, a UK-based advertising agency, released an apology from its Johannesburg office for producing an ad deemed to be homophobic.
The advertisement was for a "healthy," buttery spread called Flora. The ad's image featured a bullet-shaped message speeding toward a heart made of porcelain. The message read: "Uhh, Dad. I'm gay." In the lower-right corner a tagline reads, "You need a strong heart today. Flora."
Lowe released this note on Facebook:
"We are very sorry for any unintended offence caused by the Flora ad. Please see the statement from our South African agency below:
"As the Managing Director of Lowe Johannesburg I would like to unreservedly apologise for this campaign and the unintended offence it has regrettably caused.
"We have requested the immediate removal of this work from all media.
"Sarah Dexter, Lowe Johannesburg."
Flora is one of the 400 brands controlled by the multi-national Unilever which responded to several inquiries on Twitter:
"The advert was not approved by anyone @Unilever. The advert is offensive & unacceptable & we've put an immediate stop to it."
In a statement released to GayStarNews, the company said:
"Unilever is proud of the support that our brands have given to LGBT people, including our recent campaign for Ben & Jerry’s on equal marriage."
Some early FB commenters thanked Lowe and Partners for their apology, but wondered how the image could have been released in the first place. South Africa is known to have adopted some of the world's most progressive laws on gay rights, including the legalization of same-sex marriage. But, as one commenter pointed out, South Africa still suffers from homophobia and a social phenomenon called "corrective rape" that is used against lesbians and others in the LGBT community. Numerous news articles have run in recent months about the victimization and brutality.