The advert, called the ‘can song’, featured both children and adults drumming empty baked beans cans to the rhythm of a song. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said people could cut themselves on empty cans.
The advert featured text directing people to an online tutorial on how to prepare an empty can by washing and taping the edges ("just to be safe"). This was shared on social media with the hashtag #cansong.
The ASA however received nine separate complaints that it would encourage unsafe practice and featured behaviour that would be dangerous for children to emulate.
After assessment, the ASA upheld a ruling against Heinz on the grounds that people would not be as proficient as the actors in the video at performing the routine.
It said: "Heinz explained that the cans used in the ad had been made safe to handle but that was not clear from the ad and we considered that the actions shown could therefore be dangerous... we concluded that it breached the Code."
Heinz released this statement: “We believe this popular ad did not pose any safety risk and many fans were inspired to create their own video versions. Of course safety is our number one priority and our online tutorials also included taping the can end as an extra precaution.”
“Although we acknowledge the ASA decision the TV campaign is over and we have no plans to run it again.”
The ASA said that the online safety tutorials were insufficient.
Previous bans for 'homophobia'
In 2008 Heinz were forced to withdraw a television advert for their Deli Mayo product after receiving around 200 complaints.
The advert featured a New York deli man cooking breakfast for a British family who call him ‘mum’ – he kisses the family father and calls him ‘sweet cheeks’.
The complaints reportedly centred on the kiss, which was found to be inappropriate and offensive. Others accused the advert of homophobia.