Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Mobile phone ad featuring a winking Jesus banned by Advertising Standards Authority

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The offending Phones 4 U "winking Jesus" ad
An ad for mobile phone company Phones 4 U which featured a winking Jesus giving the thumbs-up to "miraculous deals" on phones has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority. 98 people submitted complaints about the ads, which were published in newspapers during the Easter period this year, and the ASA have ruled that they must not appear again:
"The ASA noted that Phones 4 U had not intended to cause any offence and we welcomed their explanation that the ads had been withdrawn following the receipt of negative feedback. We noted that the ads featured a cartoon-like graphical illustration of Jesus Christ, the central figure of Christianity, and the Sacred Heart, a sacred symbol central to the Christian faith. We considered that, although the ads were intended to be light-hearted and humorous, their depiction of Jesus winking and holding a thumbs-up sign, with the text "Miraculous" deals during Easter, the Christian Holy Week which celebrated Christ's resurrection, gave the impression that they were mocking and belittling core Christian beliefs. We therefore concluded that the ads were disrespectful to the Christian faith and were likely to cause serious offence, particularly to Christians."
In responding to the ASA, Phones 4 U, which withdrew the ads following the complaints, pointed out that they were "not intended to be disrespectful of the Christian faith" and were meant to present a "light-hearted, positive and contemporary image of Christianity relevant to the Easter weekend". However, "with the benefit of hindsight, they understood and regretted any offence the ads had caused to some Christians and they apologised to anyone who was offended by the ads".
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