A young man helps an elderly fellow change a tire on the side of a busy freeway. The older man, not knowing what to offer the guy for his gratitude, decides to offer a lengthy hug to the reluctant fellow.
As cars go by, they begin honking and hollering at the two, jokingly, as if it were romantic, and the younger man (facing oncoming traffic) blanches uncomfortably at all the attention.
While this joke would have worked with an older woman in his place, the ad instead chooses the more homophobic humor of another man to heighten the joke.
Marc , Washington, DC
I could imagine just about any couple (regardless of sexual orientation) that seemed to be enjoying an extended roadside hug might get a similar response from passersby so I didn't see it as overtly homophobic. The White guy is embarrassed but clearly not revolted or angered by the display of affection. I'd probably do the same thing if my grandmother hugged me for thirty seconds on the highway while dozens of cars passed by. The airport...Well that'd be different. It was partly the venue, I think.
Michael Hutchinson , Los Angeles
I was actually researching Citibank in preparation for opening an account. However, I remember this commercial, and how disturbing it was. This commercial was so bad on so many levels that I'm afraid Citibank will not be getting my business for quite some time.
Karl Steinberg MD , Oceanside, CA
The suggestion that two men hugging on a roadway are and should be a target for derision and shame is not only ludicrously inaccurate, it is also irresponsible, inappropriate and homophobic for you to present this. First of all, the two men may be hugging for any number of reasons. Maybe one of their wives just died. Maybe one of them just got a promotion or won the lottery or has gotten engaged. Et cetera. Secondly, even if they are homosexual lovers, they are surely harming nobody by hugging in public! The clear message here is that hugging between two men is not OK, and that if you are a man who chooses to hug another man, you can expect to be harassed by strangers. I find this idea distasteful and frankly hateful. Also, thankfully, at least where I live, that is not reality. Finally, the implication that a hug from an older black man is the type of reward that nobody in their right mind would choose is somewhat warped and unpleasant, though not nearly as destructive as the rest of your commercial's message.
I want to assure you that I am not a person who believes that every statement or commercial has to be politically correct; nothing could be further from the truth. However, in the case of this particular commercial, I believe it is especially harmful in the message it sends to young people that it is OK to harass those who engage in same-sex demonstration of affection, and that it is not OK to express physical affection to people of the same sex. I know that Citigroup, Citicorp and Citibank have a generally good record in regard to human rights, civil rights, and equality for your employees and customers. This is why I was particularly appalled to see this kind of trash coming from your company. I have gone ahead and cancelled my accounts with Citibank and will be encouraging my family and acquaintances to do likewise. I would like this commercial to be pulled immediately. It is unconscionable for you to let this kind of 'all-in-good-fun,' lighthearted representation go on masking and condoning a thinly veiled and particularly insidious form of hate.
Chuck , New York City
I like this ad very much and do not find it homophobic in the slightest. I like the gentleness of the hug and the softly rocking motion of the two men. It's sweet and ever so subtly erotic. I like that the younger guy completely reciprocates the gesture after his initial surprise. His body is fully committed to the hug with no sign of discomfort. I also don't interpret the honking from the passing cars as being negative. Passers-by would honk the same way if they drove by and saw a man and a woman kissing by the side of the road. Since the honking in that case wouldn't be interpreted as derision, why must we assume that the honkers in the ad are mocking instead of cheering? Are we not betraying our own lack of faith in human nature by automatically assuming the worst of others? I find the sudden, warm intimacy between two strangers very moving and I command Citigroup and the creators of this ad.
Kevin , San Diego, CA
In this commercial it's not so funny that there are two guys hugging on the freeway, it's that this crinkly old man hugs (for too long) a young guy it just looks funny... so we laugh.
Bill , New York
When I first saw this commercial I felt ill at ease. I was unsure for about thirty seconds just what it was but something seemed to be screaming at me (and other viewers) that two men sharing a hug had to be sexual. Added to this was the fact that the commercial seemed to be saying that sexual connections between men was not only inappropriate but also wrong. The fact is that people hug for any number of reasons and the older gentleman was just doing this as an expression of gratitude. The reaction of the younger man made me wish he'd run into traffic and get flattened by a truck. Not a nice or proper thought to have but it was my reaction. Further, this commercial does nothing to improve the way others look at homosexuals, if anything it puts another nail into the coffin of tolerance which is taking part in a slow and torturous death.
Russell , Hanover, PA
Citibank screws up a sweet commercial by implying that the Good Samaritan might have chosen some other reward (such as cash) instead of a nice hug.
Mejia , Pueblo, CO
I don't see this ad as specifically homophobic but rather playing on the fear of men touching in general. It is interesting that the person uncomfortable is both young and white. This is a group in the USA that still has a fear of touching. This ad really does reflect current US culture accurately, rather we like that or not is another matter entirely.