image sourceGetty Imagesimage captionThe chocolate brand's advert unleashed a storm of criticism online

Snickers in Spain has pulled a controversial TV advert that was heavily criticised for being homophobic.

The 20-second commercial shows Spanish influencer Aless Gibaja transform into a bearded man with a low voice after eating a Snickers ice cream.

The video went viral this week, with some calling for a boycott of Snickers.

The chocolate brand has now apologised for any "misunderstanding that may have been caused" by the film.

In it, Mr Gibaja is at a beach bar with a friend where he asks a waiter for a "sexy orange juice with vitamins A, B and C".

Parece ser que comiendo @snickers_es se te quita la pluma y ya “estás mejor”. ¿Pero cómo sigue habiendo campañas así? 🤮

— Mario Montes (@mariomnts) August 4, 2021
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

The waiter, looking confused, offers him the Snickers ice cream. After taking a bite, Mr Gibaja appears to transform into a bearded man.

"Better?" the friend asks. "Better," replies the man. A slogan reads: "You're not yourself when you're hungry."

The advert unleashed a wave of accusations on social media that the brand was insulting gay men.

"It is shameful and regrettable that at this point there are companies that continue to perpetuate stereotypes and promote homophobia," the State Federation of Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals tweeted.

Spain's equality minister, Irene Montero, also joined the criticism.

"I wonder to whom it might seem like a good idea to use homophobia as a business strategy," she wrote on Twitter.

"Our society is diverse and tolerant. Hopefully those who have the power to make decisions about what we see and hear in commercials and TV shows will learn to be too."

The left-wing party Podemos noted how the advert had followed a slew of homophobic hate crimes in Spain in recent months.

"In the face of a wave of LGBTI-phobia, including attacks and even murders, Snickers can't think of a better idea than to create a trashy commercial that tells you that you are not yourself if you are effeminate," it said on Twitter.

In May, five gay men were injured in three attacks during a single weekend in Barcelona.

On Thursday, Snickers Spain said it was deleting the advert and apologised for "any misunderstanding" it may have caused.

"In this specific campaign, the aim was to convey in a friendly and casual way that hunger can change your character," it said in a statement posted online.

"At no time has it been intended to stigmatize or offend any person or group."

A spokesperson for parent company Mars Wrigley said the firm wholeheartedly apologised for any harm caused by the advert and recognised that it "got it wrong".

"We take equal rights and inclusion seriously, we want a world where everybody is free to be themselves and we believe that as an employer and advertiser we have a role and a responsibility to play our part in creating that world," the firm's spokesperson added.

In 2008, a Snickers advert that featured the A-Team's Mr T calling a speed walker a "disgrace to the man race" was pulled after accusations it was offensive to gay people.