A right-wing and outspokenly homophobic group in the United States organised a campaign against an advert that was only shown in the UK.
The ad, which featured a kiss between two men, was targeted by what gay equality group Stonewall called an organised campaign here in Britain.
It has emerged that a similar tactic was used by the American Family Association.
Heinz’s corporate headquarters in Pittsburgh was deluged with complaints from some of the estimated 3.5 million fundamentalist Christians in the AFA.
The group targeted IKEA last year for showing gay families in their ads, and has led boycotts of Ford and Disney because of their commitment to equality.
“We suggest you forward this to all your family and friends letting them know of the push for homosexual marriage by Heinz,” the AFA said in an email to supporters, reports The Guardian.
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“This ad is currently running in England, but no doubt can be expected in the US soon.”
Heinz UK had already decided to pull the advert from British TV before the AFA became involved, a decision that has led everyone from gay groups to MPs to condemn them.
The AFA describes itself as: “a Christian organisation promoting the biblical ethic of decency in American society with primary emphasis on TV and other media.”
Its chief aims are the recognition of Christmas in seasonal print advertisements and the criminalisation of homosexuality and lobbying in favour of “traditional marriage.”
They have frequently opposed equal-rights and hate-crime legislation that would benefit homosexuals and advocated censorship of print and electronic media.
Last year in a dramatic u-turn Wal-Mart, the largest grocer in the US and the second largest in the world, stepped back from the active support it was previously giving to gay-rights groups.
The AFA threatened to boycott Wal-Mart’s next big sales period and condemned the blanket support it offered to gay-friendly business initiatives.
The company succumbed to the AFA’s latest threat to urge shoppers to boycott their post-Thanksgiving sale.
The company, which owns British retailer ASDA, was in the news in August 2006 for supporting the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, in an effort to advance diversity within the store’s associate, supplier and customer base.