Snickers has pulled a controversial commercial in Spain after it was accused of using “homophobia as a business strategy.”
The ad featured Spanish influencer Aless Gibaja ordering a “sexy orange juice” with vitamins, to the disapproval of his friend and the waiter taking his order.
The waiter hands Gibaja a Snickers, transforming him into a broad-shouldered man with a beard and deeper voice.
“Better?” the friend asks, to which the new man replies, “Better.”
Snickers’ familiar “you’re not yourself when you’re hungry” tagline then appears onscreen.
El REPUGNANTE anuncio PLUMÓFOBO de Snickers. pic.twitter.com/bxtgMHh44e
— Gato (@gamomena) August 4, 2021
Snickers said in a statement that the 20-second spot wasn’t intended to “stigmatize or offend,” but the ad led to outcry and demands for a boycott on social media.
“It is shameful and regrettable that at this point there are companies that continue to perpetuate stereotypes and promote homophobia,” Spain’s LGBT State Federation tweeted. “If you need some training for next time, here we are, Snickers.”
Spain’s Equality Minister Irene Montero asked who at Snickers thought it would be “a good idea to use homophobia as a business strategy.”
“Our society is diverse and tolerant,” Montero tweeted. “Hopefully those who have the power to make decisions about what we see and hear in commercials and TV shows will learn to be too.”
Íñigo Errejón, a member of Spain’s Congress of Deputies, noted that the commercial aired after a series of anti-LGBTQ attacks in Spain, including one in which a young gay man was beaten to death by a mob of people.
“I don’t like stigmatizing and laughing at the pluma,” Errejón tweeted, using a Spanish term for effeminate gay men. “Even less so in a summer in which attacks on LGTBI people multiply.”
Following the backlash, Snickers pulled the ad and apologized. In a statement shared to social media, Snickers said it takes “equality and inclusion rights very seriously and believe that anyone has the right to show themselves as they are.”
“We want to apologize for the misunderstanding that our new advertising campaign may have caused,” Snickers said. “At no time has it been intended to stigmatize or offend any person or group. In this specific campaign, the aim was to convey in a friendly and casual way that hunger can change your character.
“Again, we regret any misunderstandings and, in order to avoid spreading a message that could be misinterpreted, we will immediately proceed to remove the campaign.”
A spokesperson for Mars Wrigley, parent company of Snickers, told The Guardian, “We would like to whole heartedly apologize for any harm caused by a recent advert for Snickers Ice Cream in Spain.”
“We recognize that we got it wrong and have removed the online content immediately,” they continued. “We take equal rights and inclusion seriously, we want a world where everybody is free to be themselves and we believe that as an employer and advertiser we have a role and a responsibility to play our part in creating that world. We will take the opportunity to listen and learn from this mistake and do better in the future.”
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