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A Wholesome Controversy: Reactions to Honey Maid Ad

posted Apr 16, 2014, 8:02 PM by Unknown user

Alisa Warren

In the age of increased tolerance and awareness of America’s celebrated diversity, representation of such is seen often on the television platform, with one example being the comedic show, Modern Family. This show depicts the varying structures of families in modern society, such as interracial and homosexual couples raising children. While this is something much more common in America today, in March, when snack company Nabisco released an ad for Honey Maid graham crackers showcasing gay fathers with their children as the new “normal,” this caused quite a stir.

The 30-second commercial features a gay couple, along with a rocker-dad who is a drummer covered in tattoos, a single father, an interracial family, and a military family. The commercial’s theme resides within their slogan, “This is Wholesome.”

In an email to the Huffingon Post, the company stated, “As a brand that has been a part of families’ lives for nearly 90 years, Honey Maid recognizes that while the makeup and day-to-day lives of families have evolved, the idea and importance of wholesome family connections remains the same."

“I liked it a lot,” said senior Michelle Flanagan. “I thought that it showcased the change in families in America, and that all of them can raise children successfully.”

This ad was not received warmly by everyone, though, as it propelled much outspoken disapproval on the Web. One Million Moms, a subsidiary of the American Family Association, a non-profit organization promoting fundamentalist Christian values, launched an online attack against Nabisco due to the ad they considered “offensive.” The organization is best known for its boycott of JC Penny after hiring known lesbian comedian Ellen DeGeneres as its 2012 spokesperson.

In a statement titled, “Honey Maid offends conservatives,” One Million Moms stated, “Nabisco should be ashamed of themselves for their latest Honey Maid and Teddy Graham cracker commercial where they attempt to normalize sin. Right away it shows two men with a baby, followed by other families, and ends with different families pictured including the one with two dads. This commercial not only promotes homosexuality, but then calls the scene in the advertisement wholesome.”

The group closed their statement with an urge to send U.S. key executives for Honey Maid and Nabisco (owned by Mondelez International) an email urging them to pull this liberal commercial immediately and remain neutral in the culture war.

Others on the social media platform also publicly disapproved of the ad. One Twitter user stated, “Your TV commercial is horrible, NOT ‘WHOLESOME’” while another described it as “disgusting.”

Joel Schumaker, VB senior and devoted Christian, enjoyed the ad and did not agree with the hate comments made by One Million Moms and various Twitter users. “I may not agree [with homosexuality], but it doesn’t give me the right to say, ‘this isn’t right’ or ‘this shouldn’t happen,’” said Schumaker. “I still thought, ‘hey, they love each other, they have a family together, this is a family.’ This is what it’s all about.”

Flanagan, also a person of faith and a proud supporter of gay marriage, was equally disappointed with the online outrage. “I think it’s stupid, because that is just closed-minded people thinking that every family has to be a ‘cookie-cutter’ family that has to be the same, and that’s not the reality that we live in anymore. It might have been in the ‘50s, that everybody was similar, but now, a lot of things have changed, and this commercial is just going with that and showcasing it.”

Flanagan went on to say that she hopes Nabisco will continue to make commercials like these.

In fact, the company released a commercial in response to the multitudes of hate comments online, by creating a piece of art out of the backlash.

How did they do it? In this video, two artists were seen rolling up printed out comments of the Internet outrage, and forming them into a sculpture on the floor. When the sculpture was completed, what was revealed was the word “love.” Following this, the comments of praise were also acknowledged, and these surrounded the completed word, showing that the positive overcomes the negative.

This isn’t the first time Nabisco publicly supported LGBT rights; in 2012, the company released an ad featuring a rainbow-colored Oreo (another Nabisco product) alongside the headline, “Pride.” This ad also received boycott threats from many online conservative groups.

In response to those comments in 2012, a spokesperson for Kraft, then a parent company of Nabisco, said that the company has a “proud history of celebrating diversity and inclusiveness. We feel the Oreo ad is a fun reflection of our values.”

And based on the countless positive words of support on the Internet, it seems to be that cultural tolerance is also good for business.

One Twitter user tweeted, “Just saw your response to all the hatred. LOVE IS LOVE. I will go out and buy a few boxes of Teddy Grahams.”

The attitude of many seem to mirror Schumaker’s statement: “Just because there are different types of families, it doesn’t make them not a family. A family is a family.”