The first campaign anywhere in the world built entirely around a gay couple in Germany comes out with a flamboyant flourish.
Although the happy, middle-class domestic couple are shown getting along well together -- making meals is a game for them instead of tedious, like for the rest of us -- Holger and Max are the picture of gay stereotypes, wearing a pink shirt or a frilly cooking apron, prancing around and speaking in lisp, effeminate voices. Three of the four installments convey a negative message about their masculinity.
While some argue that stereotypes are part of gay society, the most troubling part of this commercial is when Max comes in an announces that dinner is ready with a girlish voice. With a sigh, Holger says rather self-hatingly, "Max, please, just once can't you say it like a normal
Then at the end, Holger gets slightly campy by exclaiming that the cheese is gorgonzola.
One German viewer reports that the English-dubbed version is a poor translation and that in the German version he says, "Das kann man auch normal sagen" which means "You can say this in a normal way, too, you know!" Still, a supporting print ad reads, "Not only for real men"
which seems to support the English translation.
It is with mixed feelings that this spot lands in the Negative category. It is remarkable that an entire ad campaign is dedicated to the gay couple, with a supportive portrayal of a same-sex couple. But the humor could have been more sophisticated and aimed at issues other than stereotypes.
Yet the intent was to leverage the idea that gay men are taste makers.
Guenter Sendlmeier, general manager of McCann in Hamburg, told Euromarketing
, "We all know that gay couples are long accepted in our society and they have become the substitute for good taste, particularly in the fashion and art world. They are known for their sense of good food. Even very conservative women agree."
Peter Stachowiak, a spokesman for Iglo, told Agence France Presse, "We're trying to sell a new generation of products, upmarket food, aimed at the housewife. We thought the image of the gourmet homosexual living in an elegant interior fitted the mood of the times."
A newspaper in Germany, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
. reported of the ads: "In the beginning, the creators of the campaign were not quite certain
whether they had judged the degree of social acceptance correctly, or
whether they were asking too much of their audience. They were afraid that their own perception might be blurred, 'because there are many openly gay men in the media scene.'
The agency carried out a market survey to make sure. The results proved that housewives, pensioners, young people, working men and women unanimously agreed: Homosexual men are affectionate, helpful, well dressed, appreciative of good food and have good taste. Almost all of those questioned said that they know gay men personally.
Now, Volker Nickel, secretary of the German Advertising Federation, expects that other advertising agencies will follow suit and feature homosexual couples as well.
The paper also reported that Volker Beck, the Greens' parliamentary
spokesman on legal affairs and a board member of the Lesbian and Gay Association of Germany, wrote a note of thanks to ad agency McCann-Erickson. The gay community is glad about any commercials that show "gay normality," a spokeswoman of the organization said.
As it turns out, the actor who plays Holger also plays a straight father in a cough syrup commercial.
German gay market consultant and ad columnist Michael Stuber, who publishes Rosa Brille
wrote this about the ad: "This probably proves the decline of Christian-occidental culture: Two men make a real couple on German TV and mark the end of all morale and order. They are supposed to make IGLO quality frozen food palatable to the whole nation. The right-wing parties should consider steps to legally stop the airing of the commercial. Especially as the two guys only promote foreign cuisine: Italian, Asian etc. Will we even have to watch Turkish advertising for Bavarian beer one day? I hope so. It‘s about time that TV commercials become as colorful as life -- and as appealing for everyone. "