The video shows Spanish influencer Aless Gibaja ordering “a sexy orange juice with vitamins A, B and C: hugs, kisses and caresses” at a beach bar, while a friend exchanges bewildered looks with their waiter.
Instead of the fruit drink, the waiter offers a Snickers ice-cream bar and, after a bite, Gibaja is transformed into a bearded man with a deep voice.
Asked by the friend whether he feels better, the man replies: “Better,” before the Snickers slogan “you’re not you when you’re hungry” flashes on the screen.
The advert was widely criticized as homophobic and slammed on social media, with Spain’s minister for equality Irene Montero tweeting: “I ask myself to whom it might have seemed like a good idea to use homophobia as a business strategy.
“Our society is diverse and tolerant. 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,” she added.
The State Federation of Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals tweeted Thursday that it is “shameful and regrettable” that companies continue to perpetuate stereotypes and homophobia. “If you need some training next time, we are here, #Snickers,” it added.
Snickers Spain apologized for “the misunderstanding that our new advertising campaign may have caused” in a statement posted online.
“At no time has it been our intention to stigmatize or offend any person or group. In this specific campaign, the aim was to convey in a friendly and casual way that hunger can change your mood,” the company said.
“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,” it added.
Influencer Aless Gibaja responded to the controversy in an Instagram story, apologizing “a million times over if someone was offended.”
“Babes, I am in shock with everything that is happening … I have not spoken yet because I did not have the strength to do so after seeing so many messages against me,” Gibaja said. “I want to make it clear that I would never ever harm anyone. My flag has always been, is and will be respect, equality and tolerance.”
The advert comes just weeks after the suspected homophobic killing of a 24-year-old man prompted protests across the country.
The killing of Samuel Luiz — who was beaten to death outside a nightclub in the northwestern city of A Coruna — prompted protests in Madrid, Barcelona and numerous other Spanish cities this week, drawing thousands who denounced attacks on the LGBTQ community.
A witness identified by her first name Lina — who claimed to be a friend of Luiz — told Spanish media that a homophobic slur was used at the outset of the attack.