Image from original Honey Maid Commercial
“[They] should be ashamed of themselves [for disrespecting] millions of American families by supporting the homosexual agenda.” This is a statement issued by the American Family Association responding to a commercial released by Honey Maid on March 10 entitled “This is Wholesome.”
In almost all aspects, it’s a standard cliché depicting different families enjoying different graham cracker products. The lighting is bright and dreamy with closeups of smiling children interacting with their families. Everyone is beautiful. The music is forgettable. There are shots of picture frames that go in an out of focus. Looking at the cinematography and storyboard alone, it could easily be mistaken for a video made of stock footage. The best part of the 30 second spot was it featured a same-sex couple, a single-dad and an interracial family. Honey Maid’s voice over: “No matter how things change, what makes us wholesome never will.”
Predictably, it received intense backlash from religious and conservative groups upon its release. The group One Million Moms was particularly vocal in boycotting the brand for “normalizing sin” and “sexual perversion.” Their official website even urges followers to write to government executives, asking them to remove the commercial from the public eye.
The anonymity of users on social media generated even fiercer reactions. Open up the thesaurus entry for “disgusting” and every synonym was said. In a society that people are saying is more accepting of all types of people, it’s astonishing how 10 seconds of a graham cracker commercial is breeding so much hatred.
This isn’t the first time a company’s attempts at being inclusive angered old-fashioned groups. The National Organization for Marriage has a website boycotting General Mills because of public opposition of the Minnesota Marriage Amendment and a similar one against Starbucks. When Oreo posted an image of a rainbow stacked cookie in 2012 they received many hateful comments, as well. In 2004, Proctor and Gamble, the consumer goods company that produces household staples such as Pampers, Tide and Charmin, publicly opposed the anti-gay rights statute in Cincinnati. The American Family Association gathered signatures from nearly 365,000 families for a petition against this policy. For all the groups that pride themselves on both fostering and establishing strong family values, it’s disappointing to hear love only applies to people like them.
Though let’s face it, no company can please everyone. They know this and will often release statements regarding their continued support toward the so-called sinful community. Sometimes they simply ignore conservative groups. However, what is truly inspiring about Honey Maid is that they reacted. They made a strong statement that wasn’t rooted in anger, pride or stubbornness. They kept with the cohesiveness of their campaign and replied with love.
On April 3, Honey Maid posted a commercial that detailed their response. They hired Linsey Burritt, a graphic designer, and Crystal Grover, an interior designer, to create a beautiful and sustainable piece of art. The two, who co-founded the Chicago-based studio INDO, rolled up printed copies of the hateful comments into tubes and turned it into a 3D typographic installation of the word “love.” They then demonstrated the overwhelming positive response by filling the space around “love” with rolled up tubes of every supportive comment the company received. It’s even stronger than the original commercial both in concept and execution. The video slowly reveals the power of love with simple typography and close-up shots of the artists’ meticulous process. To date, the video has 3.3 million hits on YouTube and is a viral sensation. It’s so effective that one wonders whether this was the original plan all along.
It’s truly in this nearly 2 minute video that Honey Maid demonstrates an inspiring ability to move forward. Their commercial was never about race or sexual orientation–every type of family was given the same amount of screen time. It’s about finding what makes a family. They knew that for every step forward, there will be those pulling back. Shots can and will be fired, but it hurts a lot less if you do it with love.