UK newspapers are reporting that the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is unhappy with a Heinz ketchup advertisment that features a hamster.
The ad features a hamster in a cage drinking from a ketchup bottle instead of a water bottle.
An RSPCA spokeswoman said of the ad,
We are concerned about child copycat incidences arising from this ad. Hay, grass, cereal mix and water are an essential part of a guinea pig’s diet and in no case should water be replaced with ketchup.
Heinz said in response that, “The advert is about exaggerating the fact that all foods taste better with Heinz Tomato Ketchup, and in no way is Heinz encouraging families to copy the adverts.”
Wow. The first place I ran across this was in British tabloid The Sun and assumed it was a hoax or, at best, exaggerated, but numerous other British newspapers are reporting the same story.
The RSPCA has really mastered the art of unintentional self-parody of late.
Heinz tomato ketchup guinea pig ad criticised by RSPCA. Media Bulletin, November 23, 2004.
Guinea pig’s tomato sauce TV role leaves a bad taste. Russell Jackson, Scotsman.Com, November 23, 2004.
RSPCA criticises guinea pig ad. ITV.Com, November 23, 2004.
Fury over new ketchup ad. The Sun, November 23, 2004.