Quebec drugstore chain Familiprix Group has pulled one of its television ads after it was criticized for allegedly fostering gay-bashing.
Quebec City-based Familiprix moved quickly Thursday to yank the controversial ad, which shows a pharmacist on the sidewalk using the mirrored window of a bobybuilding gym to lick his lips and wipe away excess ice cream from the cone he's been slurping.
Inside the gym, a muscular man who is working out misinterprets the gesture as a come-on and gets angry.
Cut to the pharmacist in his store; we realize he has been imagining the event as he stares at a young male customer who wants something to treat his huge black eye.
Familiprix – which groups together almost 300 drugstore owners – said in a news release that it's reluctantly pulling the ad because "certain people concluded it is homophobic" despite the fact that a majority of comments received urged the company to keep running it.
"If we had gone with the majority of comments we got, we would have kept the ad," said Familiprix spokeswoman Nancy Girard.
Familiprix is well known throughout the province for its humorous, absurd ads with the theme of "we know how you feel," she said.
"We had absolutely no intention of promoting violence against gays," she said.
The ad was pulled because the company's policy is to be alert always to public sensititivies and not encourage discrimination or bullying, vice-president of marketing André Rhéaume said in a statement.
Familiprix offered its apologies to anyone taking offence at the ad.
Laurent McCutheon, president of Montreal gay-rights group Gai-Écoute, said he's satisfied with Familiprix's quick response.
"They behaved like a responsible company."
The ad could be interpreted as encouraging violence against gays, he said.
"It's just not funny, one man smashing the face of another.
"It's as though the guy in the gym feels it's okay to gay-bash just because he thinks he's being propositioned by a man."