‘Homophobic’ Snickers advert pulled from TV screens after outcry

Spanish influencer Aless Gibaja appears in advert for Snickers which was accused of being homophobic

Snickers in Spain has pulled a controversial advertisement after it was widely condemned for being ‘homophobic’.

The 20-second advert shows Spanish influencer Aless Gibaja order a “sexy orange juice” while at a beach bar with a friend. Gibaja is then given a Snickers ice cream bar by a waiter at the establishment. After taking a bite, he transformed into a bearded man with a deep voice.

The friend asked if he is feeling “better”, and the bearded man replied that he is while the tagline reads: “You’re not yourself when you’re hungry”.

The advert sparked a wave of condemnation after it began circulating online this week. Spain’s equality minister Irene Montero spoke out against the advert in a post on Twitter and questioned “who would think it is a good idea to use homophobia as a business strategy”.

“Our society is diverse and tolerant,” Montero wrote. “Hopefully those who have the power to make decisions about what we see and hear in commercials and TV shows will learn to be too.”

The State Federation of Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals also weighed in on Twitter. The group said in a tweet that it was “shameful and unfortunate” that there are “companies that continue to perpetuate stereotypes and promote homophobia”.

Left-wing party Podemos wrote on Twitter that the advert comes in the “wave of LGBTI-phobia, including attacks and even murders” in Spain. Podemos blasted Snickers for not being able to think of a “better idea than to create a trashy commercial” that “tells you that you are not yourself if you are effeminate”.

“Ignore this LGBT-phobia, you are free to be as you please,” the political party wrote.

On Thursday (5 August), Snickers Spain announced on Instagram that it was stopping the campaign and apologised for any “misunderstanding” it may have caused with the advert.

The chocolate brand said the advert was not “intended to stigmatise or offend any person or group”. Instead, Snickers argued the campaign was trying to do the opposite.

“In this specific campaign, the aim was to convey in a friendly and casual way that hunger can change your character,” the Instagram post read.

It continued: “Again, we regret any misunderstandings and, in order to avoid spreading a message that could be misinterpreted, we will immediately proceed to remove the campaign.”

A spokesperson for Mars Wrigley, the parent company of Snickers, told The Guardian that it wanted to “whole heartedly apologise for any harm” caused by the advert. The spokesperson added that it recognises that “we got it wrong” and removed the content immediately.

“We take equal rights and inclusion seriously, we want a world where everybody is free to be themselves and we believe that as an employer and advertiser we have a role and a responsibility to play our part in creating that world,” the firm’s spokesperson said.

The advert comes after waves of homophobic attacks in Spain.

Spain’s LGBT+ community and allies took to the streets in protest following the death of Samuel Luiz in July. The young gay man and nursing assistant died following a brutal beating at the hands of a dozen men. Several men have been arrested in connection to the slaying of Luiz.

In May, the Observatory Against Homophobia (OCH) said five gay men had been injured in Barcelona in three separate homophobic incidents over the course of a few days. The BBC reported one man needed facial surgery after he and his friends were attacked on a beach.

In July, a gay British man had his jaw smashed with a hammer in an alleged homophobic attack in Barcelona which left him needing reconstructive surgery. The man told PinkNews that he believed he was the “victim of a hate crime, a homophobic attack”.