Alexander the Grape discontinues billboard with groping joke

Twitter users slammed the candy brand for a ‘tasteless’ campaign.

CHICAGO: Candy brand Alexander the Grape said it has taken down its billboards that state, “Has never groped a licorice,” after Twitter users complained about the campaign.

The billboard is part of Alexander the Grape’s Make America Grape Again campaign, launched as part of parent 1908 Candy’s effort to celebrate the revamping of the grape candy. The campaign launched in early July.

Amy Brown, the former "sass master" behind Wendy’s Twitter account (she now handles social media and brand marketing for cloud-based design tool Figma), tweeted an image of the billboard Monday morning, adding, “i need to speak to the people @alexgrapecandy who thought they should use the fact that the president's a rapist in a candy ad.”

Alexander the Grape tweeted back at Brown explaining the billboard was part of a campaign “meant to poke fun at different aspects of the political landscape. We agree that this topic is extremely sensitive, and we have discontinued this billboard.”

The campaign billboards are up around Chicago, where the brand originated. Other billboards for this campaign state, “Zero allegations of inappropriate behavior”; “It’s time we had a leader with balls”; “This election, chews wisely”; “Not sleepy, not crazy, just delicious”; “Yes, we can(dy)”; and “It’s the candy, stupid.”

The brand also set up a microsite for the campaign at www.makeamericagrapeagain.com/.

Brown later tweeted at Alexander the Grape telling the brand to “discontinue the entire rest of the campaign because it fucking sucks.”

Others on Twitter agreed with Brown’s assessment of the campaign.

Jack Levinson, creative director and managing partner for 1908 Candy’s creative agency Mann Sales Co., told PRWeek via email, “We always strive to be receptive, and upon seeing that two of our billboards - with slogans ‘Has never groped a licorice’ and ‘Zero allegations of inappropriate behavior’ - were being seen as offensive, we made the decision on August 19, 2020 to discontinue the billboards.”

He added that responses to the overall campaign, aside from those two discontinued billboards, have been largely positive. Sales numbers since the campaign’s launch have been up significantly nationwide, he said.

“Both 1908 Candy and Alexander the Grape do not condone any sort of inappropriate behavior, and in understanding the sensitivity of the issue, removing the slogans from all future campaign materials was a clear choice,” said Levinson. “As we move forward, we are appreciative of the feedback we’ve received through social media and we will strive to be more conscious and educated in our creative choices.”

Editor's note: This story was updated on August 25 with comment from Levinson.

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