Anti-LGBTQ group stirs up anger at Ritz for inclusive holiday ad: 'Nothing to do with selling crackers'

·Senior Editor
·4 min read

First came the love, then the hate. That’s the story — still ongoing — of the “Where There’s Love, There’s Family” holiday ad from Ritz Crackers, which has riled up a Christian-themed hate group with its tender, normalizing depictions of gay love and fluid gender expression.

“Ritz Crackers is attempting to normalize the transgender lifestyle by airing a commercial that has absolutely nothing to do with selling crackers,” notes an online petition, urging Ritz to stop “pushing the LGBTQ+ agenda,” from the American Family Association (AFA), categorized as an anti-LGBTQ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. “The company’s most recent ad features a man putting on lipstick like a woman and effeminately clinging to another man, to brainwash children and adults alike by desensitizing audiences,” warns the petition, which has more than 50,000 signatures since it launched on Dec. 7.

Ritz ad
A holiday ad from Ritz Crackers has riled up a Christian-themed hate group. (Credit: Ritz)

“The company’s goal is to redefine family as something other than God’s biblical design for gender and sexuality,” the petition says. “In its own words, Ritz says, ‘We’re encouraging people to rethink what it means to be family.’”

For that, the cracker brand has been widely praised, including by GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis, who told NBC News, “The holidays can be a particularly difficult time for LGBTQ people, as many are afraid to travel back to nonaffirming homes or may feel isolated from their chosen families.” She called the ad, which launched in early November on YouTube and HGTV, “a powerful example of how brands and media can step up and tell LGBTQ stories not just during Pride Month, but all year round.”

Ritz, whose parent company, Mondelez International, did not immediately reply to a request for comment about the petition, told NBC News in a statement that the ad, which also depicts individuals in a homeless shelter and having virtual family visits, “sets out to remind consumers that there is strength and love in togetherness, and a blood relation isn’t the only way to define family.”

Senior marketing director Patty Gonzalez added, “At a time when our families may be strained as a result of social distancing, political tensions or personal orientations and identities, the Ritz brand’s campaign is intended to encourage Americans to help build a more accepting world and welcome in those that may be feeling disconnected or alone.”

On its website featuring the campaign, Ritz noted that it has partnered with the It Gets Better Project, which focuses on LGBTQ youth, as well as with Hispanic Star and Invisible People to help support communities in need during the holiday season.

The ad has been drawing a flood of appreciation on social media, with fans calling it “brave” and “heartwarming.”

Critics, meanwhile, echoed the concerns of the AFA.

The AFA petition is reminiscent of similar efforts by One Million Moms — a subsidiary of the AFA — which has circulated petitions and starting boycotts of the Hallmark Channel over its movies embracing LGBTQ themes and, in 2019, for a Zola ad featuring a lesbian kiss.

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