The commercial, for Heinz Deli Mayo, depicts a regular dad, son and daughter preparing for school and work in the morning, while mom prepares a packed lunch for them. The only unusual element is that "mom" is in fact a man in a white deli-chef uniform who speaks with a strong New York accent.
The girl and the boy address him as "mom" and their father calls him "love." As Dad leaves for the office, he says, "See you tonight, love," to which the sandwich maker replies, "Hey–ain't you forgetting something?"
Dad then walks back across the kitchen to give the chef a kiss goodbye. The chef says, "Love you. Straight home from work, sweet cheeks."
Nigel Dickie, director-corporate affairs for Heinz U.K. said, "It is our policy to listen to consumers. We recognize that some consumers raised concerns over the content of the ad and this prompted our decision to withdraw it. The ad was meant to be humorous and we apologize to anyone who felt offended."
Viewers contacting the Advertising Standards Authority watchdog have complained that it is "inappropriate to see two men kissing" and that the ad was "unsuitable to be seen by children."
In fact, the spot already carried some nutrition-related restrictions and could not be shown in or around children's programming because of the levels of fat, salt and sugar in the product.
The ASA had not yet begun investigating the complaints from viewers, but Heinz chose to withdraw the spot rather than risk continued controversy. It was due to run for another four weeks.
The spot was the first from the agency since it won Heinz's $20 million U.K. business last year.
The Black Friday-Cyber Monday weekend is the blockbuster sales period for marketers, not just as the holiday launching point, but also as a contributor to overall annual sales. Savvy marketers are starting early and turning to omnichannel optimization. Learn what you need to do now. Brought to you by Criteo.Learn more