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Holiday Inn drops transsexual ad that premiered at Super Bowl

January 29, 1997 GMT

ATLANTA (AP) _ Holiday Inn Worldwide said Tuesday it is dropping a television commercial featuring a transsexual that premiered during the Super Bowl.

The hotel chain said the ad, which was aimed at dramatizing the company’s $1 billion renovation program, offended some people.

The company said it aired the ad because consumer sampling prior to its broadcast showed that many people liked it. The ad showed a woman drawing admiring glances at a class reunion. She turns out to be a male alumnus who had a sex-change operation.

The commercial ran in the second half of the telecast of Green Bay’s 35-21 victory over New England in the National Football League championship game.

``We understand that the ad has offended some people. That was never our intention, and that’s why I have today taken the action to discontinue any further broadcast of the Super Bowl ad,″ said John Sweetwood, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Holiday Inn.

On Monday, Holiday Inn spokesman Craig Smith said about two dozen people called corporate headquarters in Atlanta about the commercial, and half of them liked it.

Gary Schahet, head of the hotel’s franchise owner group, said about 30 calls came into the association’s offices from franchisees and were 5-to-1 in support of the ad.

In the ad, the female character eventually runs into an old classmate who insists on guessing her name. The man shudders as he recognizes her as Bob Johnson from the old days.

``It’s amazing the changes you can make for a few thousand dollars,″ the narrator says.