ATLANTA (BP)–Holiday Inn Worldwide has canceled plans for further use of a television commercial which features an actress portraying a transsexual. The commercial, which aired during the Super Bowl, was designed to introduce the hotel chain’s renovation program, but generated hundreds of protest calls to local franchisees as well as the corporation’s Atlanta headquarters.
Philip Roberts, interfaith witness director for the Home Mission Board, helped sound the alarm that generated many of those calls.
“I read about plans for the commercial on Friday and began calling pastors and friends across the country urging them to register their outrage at this use of perversity in advertising,” Roberts told Baptist Press. “Apparently the response was overwhelming in that Holiday Inn apologized and pulled the commercial less than 48 hours after it aired.”
The commercial featured a supermodel-like transsexual surprising her/his former classmates at a class reunion, although according to media reports a woman played the transsexual. Holiday Inn issued a new release Tuesday announcing it planned to “discontinue any further broadcast of the Super Bowl ad.”
In a letter to John Chandler, Holiday Inn vice president of marketing, Roberts applauded the decision to cancel the spot but requested a meeting with Holiday Inn officials to explain “why we oppose it so vehemently.”
“Obviously Holiday Inn, which purports to be a family-friendly company and is used by thousands if not millions of Southern Baptists, miscalculated or, even worse, ignored the views of those who hold traditional Judeo Christian values,” Roberts said.
Hotel officials have said they received positive endorsement of the ad concept during testing with corporate officials, franchisees and consumers. “The fact that so many of us were offended by this commercial is evidence that Holiday Inn’s marketing staff is out-of-touch with a large segment of their customer base. I think we can help them understand why such perversity is offensive to us and the negative effects it has on our culture,” Roberts concluded.