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Johannesburg - Margarine giant Flora has become embroiled in a row about homophobia after launching an advertising campaign that appears to liken a parent’s perceived anguish at being told their child is gay to a bullet through the heart.
The ad, which is believed to be from South Africa, has the words “uhh dad, I’m gay” fashioned into the shape of a bullet as it flies through the air towards a human heart made of china.
At the bottom of the poster, next to Flora’s famous logo, appear the words: “You need a strong heart today.”
Flora, which is owned by consumer goods firm Unilever, has come under a barrage of criticism from gay rights groups, who claim the advert is homophobic. A spokesman for gay rights group Stonewall said: “Many people will clearly find this advert offensive and inappropriate.”
It appears the margarine company contacted ad group Lowe + Partners in Joburg to spice up its image, as a second ad from the new campaign refers to the Kama Sutra.
Some people took to Twitter on Monday to vent their frustration at the ad’s connotations.
Jamie Rowe wrote: “Dear @Unilever – great work with the homophobic Flora advert, d****ebags.”
Gay radio personality Eusebius McKaiser also weighed in on Twitter.
“Need a strong heart? Stay away from #flora. Bad like Russian Vodka!,” he wrote.
Coupled with a photograph of a tub of Flora on the floor, Lydia tweeted: “I saw the Flora advert so I threw mine on the floor.”
Flora has for years been marketed as containing ingredients that provide for a healthy heart.
Unilever SA’s spokeswoman, Unathi Mgobozi, said the ad will not be used in SA.
“This advert was prepared by an external agency in South Africa and was not approved by anyone at Unilever. (It’s) offensive and unacceptable and we have put an immediate stop to it,” she said.
Mgobozi said Unilever brands were proud supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.