Heineken pulls ad many called ‘terribly racist’

The meaning behind the beer maker’s recent commercial sparked a heated debate online, and the company said it ‘missed the mark.’

Controversy can get your organization in headlines—but it can also send your PR team scrambling for a response.

Heineken recently experienced this after its newest commercial drew a backlash.

USA Today reported:

In the 30-second advertisement, a bartender slides a bottle of Heineken Light towards a woman. The beer passes several men and women of color before reaching her and then the statement “Sometimes Lighter is Better” appears.

The PR headache for the beer maker grew after Chance the Rapper tweeted the following:

Though some disagreed with the rapper and said his comments were “reaching” for a meaning that Heineken didn’t intend, others agreed, tweeting comments such as this:

The discussion prompted many headlines about Heineken that included the phrase “terribly racist.”

On Monday, Heineken pulled the ad and sent a statement to the BBC, which read, in part:

“While we feel the ad is referencing our Heineken Light beer, we missed the mark, are taking the feedback to heart and will use this to influence future campaigns.”

The company’s latest campaign might have missed the mark, but Heineken has previously been lauded for its ads.

CNN Money reported:

Heineken had previously navigated sensitive issues more successfully.

In the aftermath of the Pepsi ad controversy last year, the beer brand was praised for an ad entitled “Worlds Apart” that addressed gay rights, climate change and feminism.

“For decades, Heineken has developed a positive track record for creating marketing that shows there’s more that unites us than divides us,” Trowery said Monday.

The beer maker is also not the only organization that has faced criticism for its marketing messages.

USA Today reported:

Heineken’s commercial is just the latest brand cited for insensitivity. International retailer H&M lost celebrity endorser the Weekend and rapper G-Easy — and faced online criticism from Lebron James and others — in January for an ad in the U.K. featuring a black boy modeling a sweatshirt emblazoned with the words “coolest monkey in the jungle.”

In the past year, Pepsi and Dove also were forced to apologize and pull ads after backlash grew—the first after releasing a protest-themed commercial featuring Kendall Jenner, and the latter for an ad that many called racist.

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