Snickers ad sparks controversy

By AdNews | 25 July 2008

SYDNEY: Mars has pulled its latest Snickers ad, featuring Mr T, following pressure from gay rights groups and a scathing open letter to the president of Omnicom.

The campaign, created by Omnicom-owned Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, has been pulled globally.

Mars Australia has been caught up in the drama - Mr T was in Australia last week to launch the SpeedWalker global campaign. A spokeswoman for Mars said a viral for the campaign had launched last week, while the scrapped TVC was due to air in Australia on 31 August.

Mars will be running a replacement TVC.

The ad, the latest instalment in the Mr T Snickers campaign, features the former A-Team star firing Snickers at a “speed walker”.

Sitting astride a Snickers truck with firing equipment, Mr T yells: “Speed Walking. I pity you fool, you are a disgrace to the man race. It’s time to run like a real man,” as he pelts the bemused speed walker with Snickers bars. The ad closes with Mr T encouraging viewers to “Get some nuts!”

UK reports claim the ad received only two complaints after going to air on 13 July, however pressure from The Human Rights Campaign, the largest gay and lesbian civil rights group in the US – where the ad had not gone to air – forced Mars to scrap the ad globally.

Daryl Herrschaft, director of HRC's Workplace Project, said in a statement on the HRC’s website: “Following conversations between the Human Rights Campaign and senior Mars representatives, the company has agreed to pull its most recent ad using stereotypes of gay men to sell its Snickers product line. HRC applauds Mars for taking swift and appropriate action.”

Bob Garfield, a columnist for Advertising Age in the US, also published a scathing open letter to Omnicom president Jim Wren calling on him to take immediate action.

“It is time for you to intervene . . . Stop the dehumanizing stereotypes. Stop the jokey violence. There is no place in advertising for cruelty. Pull the campaign. Do it now. Then tell your agencies how to behave. Or else.” (Click here to read the letter.) 

A statement provided by Mars Australia today said: "The Snickers Speed Walker Ad is the second in a series of Snickers ads featuring Mr T, which are meant to be fun and have been positively received in the UK where it was being aired. However, we understand that humor is highly subjective, and it is never our intention to cause offense. Accordingly, we have pulled the Mr T Speedwalker ad globally."

The ad is still available to view online where it has already received over 200,000 hits.

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