At least, that’s what the American Family Association had to say about a Heinz ad that was featured in the UK. It seems that the ad featured a homosexual family with a homosexual couple sharing a kiss as the male part of the union left for work. The AFA Christian group lodged several complaints that had the computer systems bogged down for hours at the Heinz headquarters. They were greatly offended and asked for not only the immediate removal of the ad but also for an apology to customers. Was this a good idea gone bad?
It seems that perhaps Heinz smeared it’s good name with the folks at the American Family Association, but quickly offered an apology with promises to never run the ad again. It’s almost like a little kid who got caught raiding the cookie jar – that unbelievably wide-eyed look as if they didn’t notice that anyone was looking. Is the apology too little too late, or was this a strategic effort to increase their sales? The ad featured a new product line that Heinz is introducing, so perhaps they wanted as much exposure for this new product as they could get. Although the ad has not run in any US outlets, the Christian group’s ties and interests ran deep enough that the UK media for Heinz took note. What were they thinking?
The media has ties to several varied special interest groups who want to get their message out and sensitize certain niche audiences. They use several media outlets to achieve this, including television, radio and print materials. They approach their message from certain angles and usually settle on one that will create buzz and get them lots of attention. While everyone doesn’t always agree or think the same on certain issues, the media has a financial need to cater to what their customers want and what the majority of their customers are seeking. This doesn’t always fare too well with the general population, as is the case in this news story, but being aligned with proper or “right” thinking isn’t always what the media seeks to do. Since right thinking is definitely relative thinking, it would stand to reason that they felt “right” in their choice to make and run this ad in its context.
Heinz will definitely garner attention from this use of advertising. How can they not? Whether they get new customers, lose faithful ones or just get a chuckle from it, they have definitely received attention. If nothing else, folks will want to try this new product just to see if it was really good enough for Heinz to put themselves on the firing line like they did. And, if it was worth it, perhaps other companies will take note and start producing “edgy” ads in an effort to reach customers. All in all, this was definitely a strategic move made by a company who carries a household name with their product alignment. Time will tell whether or not it was worth it.
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