The advertising campaign was developed for the Maredo steakhouse chain by writers at German ad house Scholz & Friends – but despite winning a prize it was considered so offensive it was never used, Der Spiegel reported on Wednesday.
A second slogan also shown branded onto a steak in the campaign was “If one should not eat animals, why are they made of meat?”
Although the first image has been stored on the website of advertising association, the Art Directors Club website, as it had won a prize in 2009, it was never used and until last week was not a problem.
But last week someone dug it up and passed it around various social networks, where it was met with outrage and passed on, acquiring the Twitter hashtag tofuschwuchtel or fag tofu.
Volker Beck, human rights expert for the Green party wrote to the advertising firm demanding an apology.
Maredo launched a damage limitation operation and issued a statement distancing itself from the campaign, stressing that Scholz & Friends had approached them asking to use the idea of advertising for a steakhouse in a competition. Maredo executives had never even seen the images that resulted, the firm said.
A spokesman for Scholz & Friends told Der Spiegel that the firm apologised and was doing what they could to remove the image from the internet.
Referring to the image, the agency said, “We would not do that today, and regret that the feelings of homosexual people were hurt.”