Critics say a new Toshiba Canada ad depicting an awkward exchange between male college roommates is anti-gay.
In the commercial, one dude asks his roomie to send him some calculus notes. What he receives instead is a sketch of himself as a buff centaur. "Oops, wrong document," the sender says, as discomfort registers on the face of the recipient.
The ad is intended to show off the Toshiba Excite Write tablet's ability to convert handwritten notes and drawings into sharable files for the back-to-college crowd. But to many, it sends the wrong message.
"It is undeniably homophobic," wrote one commenter on YouTube, where the spot generated many angry responses. "... It plays entirely into straight male fears that gay men are attracted to them."
Another complained, "The ad relies on the same anti-gay panic that kept gay people out of the military and Boy Scouts for so long, and has been lame since the 1990's."
AdWeek and Copyranter also criticized Toshiba Canada for relying on the hackneyed trope of straights being freaked out by perceived come-ons from gays.
The commercial had its defenders, who accused those offended of overreacting. "People you guys are idiots if you think this is homophobic, im gay, I would know," wrote a YouTube commenter.
In its defense, the company told AdWeek, "Toshiba would never intentionally set out to offend our customers. We do not feel [the ad] is offensive or cliché."