NEW YORK Mars will no longer air a controversial U.K. Snickers spot that some decried as homophobic.
The commercial by Omnicom’s AMV BBDO in London shows a man speed walking in an exaggerated manner. Mr. T ultimately blasts the walker with Snickers bars from a gun and exhorts him to “get some nuts.” (Click here to view the spot.)
Mars issued this statement late Thursday: “This ad is the second in a series of U.K. Snickers Ads featuring Mr. T which are meant to be fun and which have been positively received in the U.K. However, we understand that humor is highly subjective, and it is never our intention to cause offense. Accordingly, we have pulled the Mr. T speed walker ad globally.”
The Human Rights Campaign Foundation said Mars agreed to stop airing the spot after discussions between the company and the HRC Workplace Project.
“HRC applauds Mars for taking swift and appropriate action,” said HRC Workplace director Daryl Herrschaft.
A BBDO representative declined to comment and referred calls to Mars.
The speed walker ad was created for the U.K. market as part of a campaign featuring Mr. T that positions the product as “man’s fuel,” said sources.
The spot, which was preceded by some teaser ads with just Mr. T, ran for about a week in the U.K. and ended its run — as planned — on July 20, sources said.
This isn’t the first time a Snickers ad has been blasted for allegedly promoting anti-gay stereotypes. In 2007, Snickers caused controversy with a commercial that ran during Super Bowl XLI. That spot showed the disgusted reaction of two macho mechanics who accidentally kiss while eating a Snickers bar. Omnicom’s TBWA\Chiat\Day in New York created that commercial.
The day after the big game, after the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and the Human Rights Campaign and others complained that the characters’ reaction to the faux kiss was homophobic, the client dropped plans to air the ad again and closed down a related microsite.
This story updates an earlier item with the statement from Mars.