Outcry spurs Snickers to pull Super Bowl ad

LOS ANGELES: Hours after gay rights activists including the Human Rights Campaign and Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation criticized Snickers' "Mechanic" Super Bowl spot, the company pulled its Web tie-in "After the Kiss" ads, shuttered an accompanying microsite, and issued a formal apology.

LOS ANGELES: Hours after gay rights activists including the Human Rights Campaign and Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation criticized Snickers' "Mechanic" Super Bowl spot, the company pulled its Web tie-in "After the Kiss" ads, shuttered an accompanying microsite, and issued a formal apology.

Snickers' 30-second spot, by New York-based TBWA\Chiat\ Day, featured two mechanics munching on opposite ends of a Snickers bar, only to accidentally lock lips in a momentary kiss. After recoiling in horror, the guys decide to do something "manly" by ripping thickets of hair from their chests.

The accompanying microsite, featuring three alternate ad endings and footage - coordinated by Snickers' AOR, Weber Shandwick in Chicago - of Bears and Colts players reacting with stereotypical "manly" horror to each ad, drew much of the criticism.

Snickers' parent entity, Hackettstown, NJ-based Masterfoods, has subsequently redirected the microsite to the candy's main page. And though the original ad is still featured on portals, including AOL, Snickers doesn't plan to run the spot on TV again.

In a statement, Masterfoods director of public affairs Alice Nathanson said the brand didn't intend to offend viewers; rather, its "goal was to capture the attention of our core Snickers consumer." Feedback, she said, has in fact been positive among "target consumers."

Initial media feedback was positive, according to WS and research firm Cymfony. But following the outcry, support dropped sharply, said Jim Nail, Cymfony's chief strategy and marketing officer. "Once the gay rights community took [its] stand, that brought out more people saying, 'That's not in good taste,'" he said.

By Wednesday, however, Nail said that while the mainstream media still skewed highly negative, the opinion of consumer-generated media began to turn back to positive.

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