You’re furious that the Advertising Standards Authority have banned the Heinz Beans ad, the one where some Heinz fans tap a little ditty using a bean can, after nine people complained that it was dangerous for children.
You can feel the vein in your temple throbbing and the amount you’re instinctively shaking your head is starting to make your neck hurt. The anger is welling. The corners of your mouth are twitching, the words are forming and you can’t suppress them any longer.
“I-I-I-ITSHEALTHNSAFETYGONEMAD!” You’ve just screamed, startling everyone around you. You’re apologising, and are a bit red-faced, but you’re still muttering “Honestly!…” under your breath and sighing quite loudly every few seconds.
Look, Bucko, just because you don’t care about children’s safety as much as the ASA or the nine conscientious complainers, that doesn’t mean they should have to be exposed to Heinz’s corrupting filth.
Perhaps you’ve forgotten what it’s like to be a naïve infant, your mind full of dreams you’ll never accomplish, a febrile excitement at the sight of anything shiny and an insatiable desire to copy everything you watched on television. Perhaps you ought to step out of your blinkered, wizened worldview for a hot second and consider the world anew, through the impressionable eyes of a child…
1. Let’s start with the big one, the reason the ADA got involved and yanked this shameful nonsense off the air: the tapping.
Heinz want kids to pick up their bean cans and rhythmically whack their tiny fragile hands on the sharp aluminium edges. You have to ask yourself: what kind of sadistic pervert dreamed up this monstrosity? A monstrosity which – if it wasn’t for the swift and decisive work of the ADA – would surely have caused millions of Britain’s smallest children to wreck their even smaller hands to shreds attempting to replicate the annoying beat. And then you have to answer yourself: Heinz.
2. If I were a child confronted by this milquetoast student cooking himself a measly portion of beans in his kitchen, I’d immediately think: I should cook myself some beans, too!
Faced with huge gaps in knowledge, children have a tendency not to admit defeat, but improvise using their imaginations instead. So I’d watch this ad, then I’d head to my kitchen and I’d indiscriminately start turning knobs and chucking utensils about. As a toddler, I once poured Nesquik in a kettle, boiled it and then drank it because I had decided that’s how you made hot chocolate. I had to go to A and E. If I was that same toddler watching this evil ad today, another trip to A and E would no doubt ensue.
3. Exposed hobs are dangerous, inviting things. In a university kitchen not too dissimilar to the one shown here, a group of my pals and I got so bored we decided to play ‘Hob Touch’, where you all put your hands on one of the hobs and turn them on – whoever keeps theirs on longest wins. We did this, despite being near-adults. With that in mind, what hope does an innocent youngster fresh off the school bus stand at resisting the temptation to play Hob Twister?
4. The washing is stacked quite precariously here. Could easily fall off the sideboard and crack a small enough boy right in the skull. Heinz should encourage safe stacking for safer skulls.
5. The light from the extractor fan is still on, despite daylight clearly illuminating the room. This is a clear waste of electricity, and if all kids take Heinz’s queue, they will turn on every unnecessary appliance in the house, accelerating climate change and causing sea levels to rise. When the oceans break over the land, who will be the first to drown? The smallest among us: kids. Who will be to blame: Heinz.
6. ‘Student Vote Day.’ Here Heinz are subliminally persuading political participation, which will only inspire guiltless children to grow into culpable 18-year-old voters, who – just by engaging in the political system – will become complicit in the untold suffering and oppression brought on mankind by the regime of the day.
7. Another hazardous stacking. This ironing board is desperate to collapse on a little girl doing her homework on the beanbag (see: 8) and paralyse her for life, and you know it, Heinz.
8. Don’t put your beanbag here, kids. Not only are you at risk of falling ironing boards, but you are also blocking access to the fire extinguisher just behind. If you’re sat there doing your homework and your idiot brother sets the kitchen alight after under the influence of Heinz’s ad (see: 2), a grown up won’t be able to act as quickly as would be necessary to put out a small fire if they have to expend valuable fire-fighting seconds reaching around you to take the extinguisher off the wall. The entire family would surely perish.
9. Reading materials brazenly on display. What’s wrong with that, you ask? Well consider the aphorism: knowledge is power. Then consider the words of Sir John Dalberg-Acton, who warned that “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” If children are inspired to pick up a book after watching Heinz’s filth, they will have stained their pure minds.
10. The girl portrayed here is holding her knife correctly, to be fair, but really she doesn’t need to be using a knife to eat beans. Is she eating beans on toast, though? Which needs a good cutting up? After studying this still for a minute or so, I would say the evidence is inconclusive. An unnecessary risk.
11. It’s never made explicitly clear what relation the boy and the girl in this ad are to one another. Are they housemates? Brother and sister? Or, worse, lovers? The ‘Darling’ (sang by the girl) suggest some level of intimacy that should make even the most iron-stomached amongst us squeamish. If these two are engaged in some sordid affair, they will be performing all sorts of depraved sexual acts together. How can Heinz executives sleep at night knowing they’ve exposed children to vile implied erotica? On TV, of all places.
12. Ambiguous smile. Is the boy smiling because he’s been directed to by the girl’s lyric, or because his mind has suddenly been overcome by utter smut and deviance?
13. Distracted by the girl’s lewd charms, the boy has taken his eyes off the hob. A hob which he is idly tossing a sharp can of beans over. This is an accident waiting to happen.
14. Look at this angle. Why would a mother attempt to hand her own flesh-and-blood a steaming hot plate of baked beans from this angle? The beans are clearly tilted towards the daughter’s body, where they are at immediate risk of sliding off and scalding her. Even if the mother manages to maintain the integrity of the beans on the plate for a few seconds, the daughter clearly has no means of taking them out of her hands.
15. There’s a steaming hot plate of beans coming towards you and a serrated can of Heinz being tossed between your hands, and you’re looking lovingly into your mother’s eyes instead, you reckless buffoon. Read the dangers or prepare yourself for a scalding.
16. The hateful can tapping. (See: 1)
17. The daughter is just lying on her sofa, frittering her youth away, probably watching television and infecting her precious mind with utter rubbish, pornography and violence. Why can’t Heinz encourage children to get up, get active and get a damn life?
18. The least safe use of the bean can (see: 1, 2 and 16) yet. Not content with reducing every child’s hands to bloody stumps, Heinz are clearly directing them to hurl them in the air – as this foolish schoolboy is doing here – and smack themselves in the head, gouging their eyes out and bashing their brains in.
19. Needless excess on this table-top at a precarious height for a child, who could cause themselves a nasty bruise if they run into it at any speed.
20. Preoccupied with his insane bean can tossing (see: 18), this schoolboy clearly can’t see the danger of the table-top (see: 19).
21. Vaguely fascist haircut. It might be flippant to note the similarity between this schoolboy’s flicked-fringe do and that favoured by the children’s club wing of the Nazi Party, the ‘Hitler Youth’, but there’s clearly a feint hint there. It might be accidental, but it’s an aesthetic choice that doesn’t sit right with me.
22. This is a stupid way to pass the bean can. After watching this ad, kids up and down the country will learn that the correct way to pass the bean can is to lob it at the poor mothers.
23. “In the still of night, by the desktop light…” croons this lowly office worker as he waits for his beans to heat up in the microwave. He’s clearly been forced to stay late, beyond his contractual hours, churning out something on his computer of likely very little consequence in the grand scheme of things. And Heinz have presented this as a cosy fact-of-life, conditioning children to accept to this clear erosion of workers’ rights as a fair trade-off for some microwaved beans.
24. This infernal tapping thing again. (See: 1)
25. According to something I once heard someone say, you shouldn’t stand close to microwaves because they leak radiation. This downtrodden office worker is standing so close to the microwave here he could probably power a small town with his radiation-riddled body.
26. If you pass someone the bean can like this and it clocks someone so hard it perforates their forehead and kills them, the judge ain’t letting you plead manslaughter, pal. This isn’t ‘an accident,’ it’s murder most foul and carries a triple-life sentence. Imagine being set down as a little kid. Imagine living with that lifetime of guilt, behind bars. Imagine ending a life just as you start yours. Just because you saw some violent Heinz beans-endorsed behaviour on an advert.
27. More terrible stacking (see: 4 and 7.) As these are clearly moving boxes, they could be filled with anything: heavy books, knives, pornography, glass shards, bleach, or scalding hot beans.
28. This setup is a gruesome accident waiting to happen. Eating off a makeshift cardboard table by candelight? A big ‘no’ from me. First off, let’s imagine the flimsiness of the cardboard causes the woman to accidentally hurl the scalding hot beans on the man, or down herself. Secondly, let’s say that she puts one plate down first, and it causes the cardboard to bend, flipping the candle into the air. Third, let’s say the candle flies through the air and smashes on one of the extremely flammable cardboard boxes and sets the whole room alight.
30. Children should stay out of and away from waters this deep. Even the most accomplished tot swimmers will almost certainly drown.
31. Have you seen how big children’s hands are? They barely have enough room for their own fingers, let alone three plates of steaming hot beans, sausages and mash. Triple-loading the plates also increases the risk of scalding by incorrect plate-pass (see: 14 and 27.)
32. Look at the colour of the fishermen’s cans. That’s not a natural Heinz beans green, that’s a time-weathered turquoise label. The only explanation as to why fishermen would choose to eat clearly gone-off beans on a fishing boat instead of the fish they’d caught is that these men have been stranded for weeks and these two bean cans were all they managed to dredge up (explaining the weathering.) They are desperate men reduced eating beans they found in the murky brown waters of the British seas. There’s no guarantee that some of the deep blue hasn’t managed to penetrate the gaps in the seal. A risk no child should have to take.
33. These feckless idiots are huddled in their shorts and t-shirts under one jacket in the pouring rain when there are clearly several tents around them providing ample cover. If a child is conditioned to ignore their natural instincts to seek shelter in favour of hanging out with their mates under an insufficient camo-coat, they will be exposed to the elements, they will get pneumonia, and they will die.
34. Look at this guy’s whole get-up; the v-neck, the sunglasses, the hat, the wristbands. You know this guy is called Damo, and Damo loves festivals almost as much as he loves popping pills and selling narcotics to other festival-goers. He’s going to spend his entire weekend at Latitude freezing his dick off under a coat (see: 33) and gurning his mouth away. Your child has just watched the Heinz Beans ad and now they idolise Damo. “I want to be just like Damo when I grow up!” they’re saying. Take all of your Heinz cans and throw them out at once.
35. Wow, Heinz. Just when I thought you guys couldn’t be any less safe, you depict a woman dropping a bean can after taking part in your infernal tapping craze (see: 1-most of them) and then unthinkingly reaching over a camping stove to get it, while smiling. This is sinister in the extreme.
36. Kneeing a bean can. No, no, no. This kid’s not even wearing trousers, it’s skin-on-can, for starters. Then you’ve got the unpredictable trajectory of the kneed can, which could knock all of the ornaments off the window sill and spice rack, or cause severe gouging or impaling (see: 18.) This won’t improve your football skills, it will send you to hospital.
37. Bin shouldn’t be left open all the time imo. This is just allowing harmful bin bacteria and gases to spread around the room, until they enter this footballing child’s gullet and take residence in their insides.
38. Just some knives lying about, where anyone could pick them up. A child, for instance.
39. Shit tapping which is dangerous for kids (see: the one joke of this article stretched over however many words this is so far.)
40. Not much else wrong with this scene. Baked beans aren’t much good for you, I guess. Contain a lot of sugar and salt. If your child develops an insatiable lust for beans after this ad and starts demanding them for every meal, they’ll develop diabetes and heart disease.
41. I don’t like this guy’s gait.
42. I think that this, ultimately, is the real danger of the whole ad: your child gets inspired to go on Facebook and learn the #CanSong. Early in my primary school career, I once tried to impress the lads in the playground by learning all of the words to Cotton-Eye Joe and doing the accompanying do-si-do I’d seen on Top Of The Pops in front of them. It didn’t go down as well as I’d hoped and briefly earned me the mortifying nickname ‘Cowgirl Cross’. When I watch Heinz’s ad, I just picture my younger self spending an entire evening learning the #CanSong and then doing an excruciating performance of, effectively: ‘tapping a used tin can and getting residue juice and cuts all over my hands while singing a song about beans’ in front of my peers, and then getting my head kicked in. Just thinking of all of the poor kids up and down the UK who would have almost certainly befallen this miserable fate had the advert not been pulled is enough to break your heart.
Shame on you, Heinz.