Ad Likens Ice Cream's Appeal to the 'Pleasures' of Being Gay in An LGBTQ-Hostile Nation

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday August 14, 2019

Magnum ice cream may have sought to appeal to a cool international audience. Or perhaps the company thought its ad comparing frozen treats to being arrested in an anti-gay country for a same-sex embrace would lend its creamy wares an edge. Whatever they were thinking, those who heard the ad gave it the cold shoulder.

Newsweek reports that the ice cream behemoth — which has supported LGBTQ causes with rainbow-themed editions of its ice cream bars, and which in 2015 launched an campaign in which gender-nonconforming ice cream fans were "true to [their] pleasure" — ran its new ad on Spotify in the UK, where listeners were shocked to hear a man's accented voice announce, "A hug for my boyfriend — that's my guilty pleasure. Because in my country, just a simple hug with the man I love could send me to prison for more than 10 years."

A social media reaction was quick in coming, Newsweek reported. One tweet expressed skepticism, ending with, "like thanks for the awareness but also like not okay."

Another Twitter user slammed the ad's ham-fisted attempt at drawing parallels between different sorts of "guilty pleasures": "There are at least 3 versions of the magnum ice cream ad that does a bit about being gay would get me X years in prison followed by a get a magnum, pleasure should be guilty.

"That's fucked."

Others took to social media to blast the company with charges of "racism" and "homophobia."

Food publication Eater echoed those sentiments with a headline reading, "Magnum Ad Suggests Being Gay Is a 'Guilty Pleasure,' Which, No."

Eater summarized the controversy nicely:

Calling something a "guilty pleasure" typically suggests there are some things we should feel bad about enjoying.... What's unequivocally not a guilty pleasure is being gay in a place where homosexuality is criminalized.

A company spokesperson offered the explanation that "a guilty pleasure isn't always what you would expect," media sources reported. But others might suggest that gays in love have — to quote Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb — "nothing to be guilty of" in the first place.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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