By Julissa Catalan
Last week, Honey Maid released a follow-up video to their controversial ad titled “This Is Wholesome,” which initially sparked backlash after its March 10th release.
“This is Wholesome” features diverse families including an interracial family, a child with two fathers, and parents who are covered in tattoos. The last frame of the ad shows the same-sex couple with their children and the tagline “This is Wholesome” written on the screen.
Many felt that the families depicted in the video were the opposite of wholesome, and soon Honey Maid was blasted with hateful comments.
The ad has been viewed more than 5 million times and generated more than 2,000 comments—sparking a debate between supporters and those against the commercial.
Among others, conservative group “One Million Moms” called the campaign an “attempt to normalize sin.” Then added, “This commercial not only promotes homosexuality, but then calls the scene in the advertisement wholesome.”
But in response, the Graham cracker manufacturer released another video on April 3rd, titled “Love.”
The ad opens with the title card saying, “On March 10, 2014, Honey Maid launched ‘This Is Wholesome,’ a commercial that celebrates all families. Some people didn’t agree with our message.”
The next shot is of close-ups of tweets and e-mails with remarks such as “Horrible, NOT ‘WHOLESOME,'” “DO NOT APPROVE!,” and “Disgusting!!”
“So we asked two artists to take the negative comments and turn them into something else.” We then see artists Linsey Burritt and Crystal Grover—who go by the collaborative name INDO—roll up printouts of each hateful comment, then fastening the tubes to one another making an elaborate figure that spells out the word “Love.”
The ad proclaims, “But the best part was all the positive messages we received. Over ten times as many.” Then we see e-mails with quotes like “family is family” and “love the Honey Maid ad” and “this story of a beautiful family” and “most beautiful thing.”
In the closing shot we see that the tubes with positive messages now encase the original paper sculpture. The viewer is told, “Proving that only one thing really matters when it comes to family: LOVE.”
“It’s about recognizing that the American family dynamic and look has changed over the decade,” Gary Osifchin, Senior Marketing Director for Honey Maid, said on Good Morning America. “And our product line has changed in parallel with that changing American family dynamic.”
“We at Honey Maid continue to evolve…so they can be a part of everyday moments of connection in a world with changing, evolving family dynamics,” he added to E! Online.
“I think that the world we live in now where social media plays such a prominent role in our lives, companies feel that they can and often should react to backlash and criticism,” Business Insider deputy editor Julie Zeveloff said. “For Honey Maid, this was a really fantastic move.”
Other brands, like the Coca-Cola Company (No. 38 in the 2013 DiversityInc Top 50) and General Mills (No. 26 in the 2013 DiversityInc Top 50), have aimed their advertising towards diverse families in the last year with their own television commercials.
Cheerios cereal—part of the General Mills family—received so much negative backlash for a television spot that featured a white mother, Black father and biracial daughter, that the site was forced to disable viewer comments. Some of the comments included references to Nazis and racial genocide, while others called the father a “deadbeat” for napping on the couch, while claiming the mother was a “single mother in training.”
Like Honey Maid, Cheerios released a follow up featuring the same interracial family during a Super Bowl ad.
During this years’ Super Bowl, Coca-Cola became the first company to feature a same-sex couple in a Super Bowl ad when “It’s Beautiful” showed a gay couple with their daughter at the roller-skating rink.
Though this advertising trend is not received well by all, it is clear that some major companies are choosing to aim their products to the people who are actually buying them—diverse families.