Several of Snickers advertisements play with the theme of being out of place, as part of the brand’s successful “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” campaign. Snickers, says Wilke, has been walking “a fine line” in several of its ads that deal with gender as a joke, including a 2018 ad featuring Elton John and a 2016 Super Bowl ad starring Willem DeFoe.
“In all of the cases, they’re sort of walking a fine line of, you know you know, the dude looks like a lady,” says Wilke.
Still, Wilke says, “I think those do better than this last one from Spain.”
It’s not the first time Snickers has been accused of homophobia. A 2008 ad played brazenly into gender stereotypes, as Mr. T shoots Snickers at a feminine speed walker in neon booty shorts. The celebrity shouts “Speed walking? I pity you, fool! You’re a disgrace to the man race!” before pelting him with candy bars from an armed pickup truck. In the end, the tagline flashes: “get some nuts.” And in 2007, Snickers faced backlash for a Super Bowl ad where two men are repulsed after kissing each other.
Despite these controversial advertisements, Snickers parent company Mars received the highest possible score on Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2021 corporate equality index, which specifically quantifies LGBTQ workplace equity. Another Mars brand, Skittles, has partnered with the organization GLAAD, which focuses on media portrayals and coverage of LGBTQ people.