Circle K’s tweet showed three offers – two included a bottle of wine and a chocolate bar. Meanwhile, a third offered the aforementioned products with the addition of a packet of condoms.
The caption to the tweet, translated from Spanish, read: “Happy Secretary Day.
“Celebrate it with them the proper way with this executive combo.”
The words “if you know what I mean” were also printed on the advert with an illustration of a person in a skirt next to an office chair.
After spotting the tweet, Patricia Mercado, a Mexican senator, shared her outrage at Circle K’s sexist advert on Twitter.
In a series of posts, the politician said that the advert was not only sexist “for reproducing gender stereotypes and misogyny by insinuating that the recognition secretaries deserve is of a sexual nature, but also because it promotes sexual harassment and bullying at work”.
Mercado added: “We need the Mexican business community to engage in the fight to eradicate this type of violence and harassment at work.”
Ayer vimos una vez más una publicidad sexista que horas después fue retirada gracias a la fuerza de una ciudadanía que ya no deja pasar estas cosas. Reconozco a @CircleKMexico por la medida, pero hay dos elementos de este caso particular que me llevan a una reflexión:#Hilo pic.twitter.com/1BLU4xPg5u— Patricia Mercado (@Pat_MercadoC)July 16, 2019
In light of the backlash, a representative from Circle K apologised to the public on Twitter, stating that the company had “taken the necessary measure so something like this does not happen again”.
In a statement translated from Spanish, the spokesperson said that Circle K “deeply regrets” the advert posted on social media and that it never intended “to promote any stereotype”.
— Circle K México (@CircleKMexico)July 17, 2019
Last month, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned all advertising that endorses harmful gender stereotypes in the UK.
The new rules now mean that companies will no longer be able to depict scenes that promote gender stereotypes, such as women doing household chores while their male partners relax with their feet up.
Other scenarios that will come under fire according to the new guidelines include school girls being shown to be less academic than boys, women struggling to park a car and men having difficulty changing an infant’s nappy.
However, the ASA outlined that the guidance does not prevent advertisers from featuring only one gender, nor does it stop them from showing “glamorous, attractive, successful, aspirational or healthy people or lifestyles”.
The Independent has contacted Circle K for comment.