A major American supermarket chain has apologised for a “poorly worded” advertisement that encouraged people to host gatherings, even as experts expressed caution over Thanksgiving Day meals turning into super spreader events.
Giant Foods’ advert played on those super spreader concerns, with a glossy magazine advert showing platters of seasonal food alongside the tagline: “Hosting? Plan a Super Spread.”
The advert appeared in the chain’s own in-house magazine, alongside images of fruit and cheese selections, a fruit tart and a shrimp platter.
And it received an immediate online backlash, accused of being insensitive to the suffering caused by a pandemic that has infected more than 11.3 million Americans and killed almost 250,000.
Following the criticism, Giant Foods quickly apologised for their advertisement “which used the language super spread to describe an abundance of food”.
“While, in hindsight, the choice of words was a poor one, Giant had no intentions of insensitivity. We continue to encourage people to practice safe social distancing practices for celebrating the holidays in line with CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] recommendations,” said Giant Foods in a statement to Washingtonian magazine.
The CDC has come out with detailed suggestions to slow the spread of infections during the holiday season, mainly Thanksgiving, noting that “the Covid-19 epidemic is worsening” and “small household gatherings are an important contributor to the rise” in coronavirus cases. It includes suggestions like shifting to virtual celebrations, limiting the number of guests, outdoor gatherings compared to indoor ones, wearing masks, social distancing and frequently washing hands.
The grocery chain, which operates 164 supermarkets in Washington DC, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and the District of Columbia, said that 2020 has been “exceptionally challenging for so many reasons and this year the holidays will be celebrated very differently” but they hope that “food can still be a source of joy and comfort and that the ad reflects that spirit”.
The administrations led by both New York governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey governor Phil Murphy have already announced curbs to control the virus’s spread during Thanksgiving, including measures like limiting gatherings at private residences to 10 people and avoiding hugs, handshakes, loud talking or singing.